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Step 9
by Vincent Barry

Does one have to say what one is apologizing for? I think so, certainly if there’s been a considerable lapse of time. But, apparently, I am mistaken.Take the apologetic note I recently received from a woman whom, apparently, I knew years ago. A Hester Smedley. Despite best efforts to recall from the dim and distant past, no Hester Smedley emerges. A Hadlee Redly, yes, and, of course,—how could I ever forget Wrenly Chance-Medley? . . . And then there’s Hester Harriet Marsden-Smedley, the journalist who made a few inquiries on Kim Philby’s behalf? But she’s long since gone . . . . In any event, this Hester Smedley is a self-admitted recovering alcoholic who evidently has advanced to Step 9 —you know, making amends? So I gather she’s apologizing for having harmed me. But how? I don’t even know who she is, let alone what she did. That’s not to say I am not sympathetic . . . or curious. Of course I am. Who wouldn’t be curious about an apology from a person one doesn’t know or can’t remember as having inflicted on him an unspecified harm? I mean, was it physical?. . . psychological? . . . legal?. . . social? . . . economic? Perhaps I am suffering traumatic amnesia from the harm HS inflicted? . . .Well, you can see why I am completely beside myself. Frankly, I don’t know whether to let it lie or reply, . . . put it in the drawer and ignore, or further explore, this missive from this mysterious Hester Smedley. . . . But it strikes me—just head scratching, y’know,— that, well, it may be time to reach out to—well, frankly, Wrenly Chance-Medley. Apologize, as it were. . . . For what? . . . Hmm, does one really have to say what one is apologizing for? . . .