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cherry

Precocious Continues

The adult side of the garden lay level, the grass mown golf green short. Simone led them past the tables, the catering staff and the barbecue. All the guests had gathered round a square of packed gravel near the fence, and centred in that space was the man. Shasta had asked more about him than the house. Her questions were ignored at first, but she kept asking, beyond the point of annoyance, when mom swore and demanded to know why such silly details mattered. Then she had to apologise, and laugh; she let Shasta share the double bed to make it up.
“Richard Dreyfuss' mouth with Warren Beatty's eyes,” she'd finally said. “Swims twenty-five lengths every morning; that's what everyone says.”
“In his own pool?”
“Maybe. And how many different suits has he got? Powder blue, the tan, the darker tan, white—,”
“He wears a white suit?”
“Yeah.”
“To work?”
“With a black shirt.”
“Like Saturday Night Fever.”
Today he wore only white, from puka shell necklace to angels' flight pants. He held up a metal baseball; plenty more lay in a case at his feet.
“So let's split into teams, maybe tripletts, eh? Three players each.”
Order given, order obeyed. In the shuffle of employees a gap opened; a straight line drawn from him to her wanted less than six significant feet. Shasta broke into faster strides. This was the moment and the permission, with an advantage of surprise if she got there while he was stooped over the case, unpacking.
“I've never played this game,” she said, “will you please show me?”
To let him look her in the eye, and stand close enough to notice freckles behind his lashes, she had to clench herself from the waist down, lock her knees together. She could not decide if she would melt or freeze.
“Shasta,” mom caught up, “Nick, sorry.”

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January 2015

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