What Price Honesty

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Marleybones had loved Lambykins since second grade. Never married, never asked, she’d persevered through his other women and ego-filled outbursts.

Geminis are mercurial, he’d explained.

It all changed with a Tarot reading. The significator, an upside-down heart pierced by three swords, foretold sorrow. But the outside formation moved from karma through completion. Luck was with her. Her boss was like a father to her. Her new ad campaign had won awards. She’d met someone else, just friends, but someone who liked her. She ghosted Lambykins. When he called, she was firm. She was free. Aquarians are not afraid of change.

ScareCity

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Applauding a soprano note, the musician’s circle welcomed Katie. A yellow school bus served as the troupe’s rolling home. The air burned her lungs, but it was better than staying at ScareCity with Affluenza three times her age.

“No mask?”

“State of the art filters there.” She pointed to the building edging the lot.

While the flutist gave her a brownie baked on charcoal, the viola player found a mask. They tuned up. When Katie sang, the timbre of her voice was untouched by the scourge of wildfire smoke. In the morning, she left with them to see the world.

How to Achieve Serenity in Downward Facing Dog

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Breathe in. Bend forward. Anchor the palms of your hands to the floor. Step back. Stretch. Hips high, breathe out. 

Do not imagine goat yoga. Thinking of hard hooves climbing up your legs and down your back will cause you to laugh. Sheep playing “London Bridge” under the arc of your belly will induce yawning, maybe sleep. You groan. Six o’clock is awfully early to be awake.

Pay attention. Vinyasa to your stomach. 

The cat will stretch over, her raspy tongue licking your face, asking to play. Roll over. Rub her tummy. She’ll settle warm and purring. Close your eyes.

Celebration

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A flash of snow arcs, flying straight to heaven. It floats at eye level, then drifts to ground. The curve of your butt segues left, then right. Love catches my throat.

“That’s how you do it, girl. Like taking a corner on a bike. It’s in the leaning.”

We reach the end of the course, your dark hair flying behind you. A bobbing pink pompom perches on the cap I knitted you last Christmas. Slowing in tandem, we find glasses, pop a cork, and toast an anniversary we never imagined would happen. The frosty air warms to our strong embrace.

County Fair

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That summer Gene, eyes longing, looked at Billie Jo like she was a county fair roller coaster. She got dizzy thinking about that look. Sitting in a lawn chair, sipping iced tea, and reading starlet magazines, Billie Jo thrilled to stories about Hollywood. She and Gene would play opposite each other as romantic leads. She was sure they’d have fantastic careers in show business.

Come the fall chill, Gene never looked at her that way. It was always some other way and she didn’t always like to admit it, but she should have known things would turn out less exciting.

Proposal # Six

board center chalk chalkboard
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For Kat’s birthday, Grant made a board game. He scoured thrift shops, looking for tokens. The game squares read: darkest secret, childhood fear, favorite sexual position. They played together. Sometimes with close friends. She liked the heart token. He liked the stallion. The Identity Forest, a square decorated with tall oaks surrounded by question marks, asked: “Do you know yourself?” The answer was in the True Confessions stack. One card said, “I’ll marry Grant.” If a friend read it, they had a laugh. But he proposed each time she landed on that square, in case Kat drew the desired answer.

 

Proposals # Three, Four and Five

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Grant was determined. He thought, “Third time’s a charm.” But it wasn’t. They vacationed in Paris. He proposed at the Eiffel Tower, in the small park where they took selfies sitting in front of tulips. He knelt. She said, “That’s so retro.”

The next day at Versailles, he brought the box out and showed it to an elderly American couple for approval. They endorsed his proposal. Kat smiled and said, “It hasn’t been long enough. He asked me just yesterday.” On the RER to CDG, she said no again, but agreed to give up her lease when they got home.