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pickup. She held her bare wattled arms out wide. The hoop hushed and crackled. Her face was a welcome joy. She wore a Walkman and hummed loudly with her eyes shut. I thought I recognized the song from the tape Jenny played us in the U-Haul all the way across Wyoming and most of Nebraska, though on that side of the dusty bottom-floor window it was hard to tell. “Come have a look at this,” I whispered. Jenny was folded into the sheets, breathing steady and warm, her light red hair draped across those round, freckled shoulders. Jenny and I had met as undergrads, sophomore year in Art History, precisely at the time in our lives when we’d both begun to believe we had what it takes to make the art that was important and big, art that people like us right then at Des Moines Community College, might study one day in a classroom like that cold cinder block space, a space not terribly unlike the Good Knights Inn in Omaha, Nebraska. She was an idealist. A kind and artful soul who brought me along with her. Or maybe it was the other way around, that I’d drug her my way. This was 1995–Jenny twenty-one, myself twenty-two–so Seattle seemed right. If not us making it there next, then who? We started making our escape plan the first night we slept together. A year later we packed up the van and made the move. “Hey,” I whispered louder. “Sweet girl, come check this out.” But Jenny didn’t hear me, or chose not to, so I stood watching for a minute longer, waiting for this woman to open her eyes and catch me marveling as I stood shirtless in Levis. Her flowered skirt pulsed, bloomed. I lit a cigarette, sat on the round fake-wood table and tugged the window just open. A moment later Jenny stood beside me quietly saying, “Wow.” “I know.” She set her cheek on my shoulder. “How long has she been doing this?” “Years, I’m sure.” I pushed my cigarette out the window onto the walkway. Jenny rubbed my neck, and I felt her thin naked leg up and down. 24| PHOEBE 48.2


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