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Vo l . 7 N o . 1 a good marriage. Sometimes a woman blows the kisses and the sex and the words out of proportion. He doesn’t need to think about that. “You can’t find a better partner than Seth,” smiles Martha. She glances at Angi, winks, and pats Seth’s arm, looking up at him and saying, “You are a wonderful dancer, just the most graceful, most responsive man I’ve ever known.” A horn booms across Puget Sound as the ferry makes its way to where Seth strokes his beard and remembers waltzing with Angi, their bodies twirling as he held her and she leaned back against his arms, looking at him. ### When they arrived late Friday afternoon, music was wafting from Camp Constantine’s worn buildings. Seth and Martha walked hand in hand to their assigned cottage, the path gleaming with the silver sunlight that comes just before twilight. He’d seen that light streaming down roads during those eight months when, after graduating from his parents’ alma mater, Seth had not gone to law school, as his parents had expected, but instead had wandered through Thailand as an ESL instructor. Before then, he’d been a good son, the third of six, praised for never needing help with homework or baseball. Yet there he was, a young man walking down roads that led to strangers who wanted nothing from him but American dollars. When his parents thought he would never give up his freedom, Seth cut off his ponytail, came home, took a Master’s in Public Administration, and married Martha, whom he met at a graduate student party. Martha had started the tradition of ending the summer at a dance camp. Seth argued for backpacking, but he had to agree that Martha and the boys loved it, and he liked the dancing. For the last two years, they’d returned to Camp Constantine’s paint-peeling wood frame cottages, its Teen Dome and Kids’ Village, its beaches where Sitka roses grew. Walking along a snarl of footpaths, dazzled by that afternoon sun, Seth closed his eyes for a heartbeat, knowing Martha would navigate the terrain. Their boys were setting up a tent outside the Teen Dome, so Seth and Martha stayed in their cottage long enough to unpack sleeping bags before walking to the dining hall, where they exchanged hugs and hellos with parents they hadn’t seen since the last Camp, and joined in songs scattered amid accordion jams. A

short woman with brown hair emerged from the group, scowled, and blocked Seth’s path. “Still no wedding ring,” she said, her arms crossed over her chest. “You never change, do you?” “Why change when everything is so great!” Seth beamed. An erotic recollection flared and died. “Good work; a happy family; a good marriage; what more can any man want?” The woman shook her head and said to Martha, “You could at least pretend to be upset.” “Don’t be silly, Susan. There’s nothing about this guy I don’t know,” laughed Martha, giving Seth a kiss. She took Seth’s arm and turned him aside, walking towards where musicians were waving to her, and inclined her head, saying, “Poor Susan, you were trying so hard to help, she was just lost after that divorce, hardly leaving the house except to go to work, and there you were, taking her to those baseball games, I wouldn’t have, you know I hate the Mariners…” “Uh, Martha, did you pack…” Seth stopped when he saw a dark-haired woman leading her young son towards the dining hall. He stared. Between the banter and burst of song, Seth heard Martha say, “…yes, still at Rainier College, but I’m hoping for a sabbatical this spring, yes, Seth is very generous, he’s a good husband…” Before the dinner bell gonged, Seth learned that the woman’s name was Angi. From across the dining hall, Seth surveyed his wild sons. Red-haired Hunter had joined a table of teenagers ferocious in their yells and arm punches, while Ted was arriving with a plate laden with lasagna. As Seth passed a serving table, he saw Angi helping her son pour lemonade. She had bent over, and her tank top slipped to flash an expanse of white skin and a rose tattoo near her heart. Angi stood up. She smiled. Seth smiled at her, and walked to Martha, who had been watching, and who was smiling.

Whoa, Daddy

Robert Bharda

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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