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Might Pass Between Them
It was June, and
in love with her dentist. She was a forty-seven year old
consultant, and this year she had already been in love
hair stylist and her personal trainer. But now she didn’t
to think about those others - the imposters. The dentist
serious, the real thing. Those others were probably gay,
meme, she thought to herself, as she leaned her head
against the headrest of the reclining chair. Even so. The
stylist was good with layering.
Her dentist’s name
George. George Desjardins. People in his office had no
romance. They pronounced it, dez-jar-dins, striking
first syllable like a Pez dispenser, when he was a man des
jardins. A direct descendant of a medieval French
designer - who laid out kilometers of pebbled paths, slate
and stone walls - yet went about unheralded, nameless. In
buckled shoes and silk shirt, he was, simply, “of the
- ready for picking.
Sheila was just
that shirt - its soft gathers at the wrists and shoulders,
muted café crème color, the way it pouffed gently
the waistband of his thick wool britches - when he brushed
her. He, George Desjardins, in faded blue scrubs, brushed
shoulder on his way to the sink. His powerful compact body
meant to be outside, Sheila thought, though as he bent to
hands, the short-sleeved scrubs seemed almost pajama-like,
bare forearms amazingly intimate.
“They booked you
lunch break,” he said, over his shoulder. “So what are we
doing?” He was scrubbing a plastic nailbrush over his
but his voice had an expectant timbre.
thought. A little ripe St. André cheese, with a salad of
beets, packed in a wicker basket? They could eat on the
down by the blue bed - columbines, gentians, veronica,
phlox. Sheila smoothed her skirt. The challis had a
to it. She could smell blue, blue, blue.
“You told them one
crowns was loose. Lower right?” He had already dried his
She wanted to tell him that she had first felt the crown
her vacation. Or maybe, she would say, laughing, that she
thought she’d felt it jiggle after the cruise
hadn’t comped her the single supplement for the barge
had been assigned a stateroom with a fifty-nine year old
nurse. The first morning, Sheila had half expected to see
woman’s teeth in the etched glass tumbler on the
But George was
her elbow in a hurried sort of way so Sheila simply opened
mouth. Love was like that, Sheila thought: You had to be
cleaving to his needs, his desires.
“She wouldn’t let me
take the crown off,” Malissa, the hygienist, said.
Sheila started at
reproachful, confidential tone. I am right here,
thought, I am not a she. I am paying for him
touch me. Sheila had forgotten that Malissa was there
just as Malissa was ignoring her. The two of them
Sheila on the
I couldn’t let just
take it off, she wanted to tell him, though Malissa did
nice name. Not that you could ever tell about a name.
from Corsicana, Texas. Before Malissa had realized they
rivals, she had told Sheila that her mother thought that
you spelled “Melissa.” Mostly Malissa prattled on about
Texas-sized weddings. She was a regular professional of a
“Wider?” George said
again as he adjusted the light. Sheila hoped that his
undertone of impatience was directed at Malissa, because
mouth, her whole body, felt flayed open like a trout.
pointing at the offending area - God, had she come
age of mysterious ailments and offending areas? - when
leaned over her. “Turn towards me, just a bit. Good.”
She was just
the hair at his temple was slightly damp with sweat when
pressurized air into her mouth.
jumped with the surprise of it.
seemed to spur him on. He picked up a stainless steel
began tapping its impossibly fine hooked point around the
of the porcelain crown - plink, plink - like a
miner. As he leaned in closer, his touch felt so delicate,
could easily envision his index finger circling the
aureole of her breast. Yes, she thought, as he adjusted
of his little mirror-on-a-stick. Yes. She still had young
especially when she was lying down.
Why then did Sheila
feel unaccountably anxious? As if some unbidden darkness
rising in her chest like water, shadowing the chambers of
heart? She closed her eyes to shut out the specter of past
failures: how the trainer had lost interest in her when
get her heartbeat up to its target zone, how the stylist
frowned at her bangs’ refusal to stay side-swept, how the