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Vo l . 7 N o . 1 Seth and Martha didn’t see Angi until Saturday afternoon when they walked outside after a zydeco set to find her sitting on a bench underneath fuschia baskets. A butterfly alighted on Angi’s nose, folding and opening its gold and ruby wings before darting off. They laughed and one of them (at first Seth thought it was he, but later wondered if it had been Martha) said: “What a dance! Even the musicians are exhausted. Let’s take advantage of the break and get to know each other.” Sitting beside her, Seth breathed in Angi’s faint tang of salt. Sweat gleamed along her rose tattoo at almost the top of her breast, those breasts almost but not quite exposed by a pale-violet, spaghetti-string tank top. They exchanged names, neighborhoods, and who was the dancer, and who the musician. “I don’t know a thing about music, and as for dancing, two left feet,” Angi laughed. “But my little boy loves music, and the women in my single mother’s group said contra was fun and that Family Dance Camp had lots of child care.” “I’ve seen you with your little boy,” Seth said, stroking his beard. “Bradley…” “Bradley looks great! Shows he has a good home. How old is he?” “Five…” “A good age.” Seth’s smile flashed perfect teeth. “That’s when a father’s a hero to his son, when a boy needs his dad the most.” “I give Bradley what he needs,” said Angi, crossing her legs. “Oh, please, you mustn’t be upset,” Martha touched Angi on the hand and smiled. Seth was opening his mouth to speak, but Martha said, “Seth’s just wonderful with little boys, that’s all. He knows just how to be with them.” “Well, I try to be a good father, the way my father was. He was a minister, a real one, not one of those pound the Bible and pass the floozies frauds. A good man, he’d always say, stays with his family, and he’d know, he had a marriage that lasted half a century, and on salary that couldn’t feed a church mouse.” Martha leaned close to Angi as if about to whisper a secret only to laugh and say: “All I ever wanted when our boys were Bradley’s age was a free afternoon for violin practice, I was a back-up player with local symphonies then, always on call, and Seth was wonderful, giving me the time to play…” “We couldn’t afford babysitters, you weren’t

33 making more than a dime now and then…” “Oh, you know you’d play with our boys morning, noon, and night, there’s nothing you love more than playing with a little boy,” said Martha gazing affectionately at Seth. Seth watched Angi open ruby lips only to shake her head, shrug, and look away. She would hold back. No driving past the house. No midnight phone calls that Martha slept through but that the boys questioned. He thought of Susan, angry Susan; he shook his head. He glanced at Martha. His wife was smiling, but her head was tilted just as she looked when she was trying to choose a route on a map. “Yes, I’m sure,” said Angi at last. Her gaze settled on Seth for a brief, joyful eternity. They heard the band start up a Cajun two-step. They drifted to the gymnasium. “Ask her to dance,” Martha whispered, giving Seth a nudge towards Angi, who stood in the doorway. “The girl’s so placid she’ll just sit the whole weekend if she doesn’t get some help.” Soon the dance was over, and then all the dance sets, and families gathered for dinner, and for Seth there was too little time to talk to Angi amid the contra dance before night fell, and the parents and children went off to separate rooms and dreams of violins, butterflies, partners changed, and end notes forgotten. Sometime before the morning sun edged past musty curtains, Seth and Martha made love again, Martha laughing “…just like old times….” When he heard her murmuring in her sleep, he thought she was singing. Sunday morning, Martha waved to Angi and Bradley, inviting them to share a breakfast table. Martha leaned over Bradley, rubbing noses with him and telling him that he was pretty nifty-neato with those jingle sticks. Seth and Martha didn’t see Angi again until the afternoon waltz workshop. Unlike Martha, Angi’s body was fleshy, her rounded thighs flashing from beneath her short black skirt, her breasts fallen but still full, swaying and shifting under her tank top. Everything about Angi was in her graceful, full-bodied nature, as if for Angi, sex, giving birth, dancing a turning waltz with Seth as she now was, was simply Angi, nothing more. Seth had sought her out as partner during the workshop (“Spins make Martha dizzy,” he explained, “That’s why she’s playing in the band.”) and as they followed the instructor’s advice and looked into each other’s eyes to keep a fixed visual point as the room spun out of control around them, Seth could

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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