Rose in Bloom

I thought, someone somehow ought to be paying attention to him, and I decided that woman could be me

Let The Good Times Roll…

And one early evening, I think it was just the next week, Mr. Sinclair and his wife, pretty petite wife Eva, picked me up in their little British sports car for the three of us to go up to Kiyoshi Kodama’s place, high in the old gold country hills, by a little river or creek they said, for an evening with no clothes on, and whatever else. It was a nice evening. You could be, I imagined, pretty comfortable with no clothes on, or so I hoped. I looked forward to the no clothes on part. Given a choice I’d have worn no clothes all the time. That appealed.

And whatever the rest of it as well. I trusted the Sinclairs, I was sure they wouldn’t be going to this party, if that’s what you could call it, gathering of like minded people, unless it was, well, I don’t know. It sounded to me like the guy’s poetry, Zen mixed up with the Kama Sutra, or something. I just trusted the Sinclairs, so when they pulled up by my shack in their little British sports car, with the vroom vroom motor exhaust, convertible, just two seats but I was prepared for that. There was a kind of large package shelf onto which a smallish person could fit themselves sideways, behind the two front seats, I was prepared for that too. Mr. Sinclair had given me a ride home once or twice when it rained, little canvas roof on the convertible up. But tonight was just lovely…stars coming out, they just had light clothes on, and I wondered if they’d take theirs off too. They seemed like a very happy couple to me, happy with each other, happy to be there together, perfectly happy to have me along, crammed into that little back seat, if you could call it that, the top down, it was kind of like floating through the air, the car so small, and it was kind of like them… No kids, seeming happy with each other. I got the feeling they liked cultural things, they’d even had Bob Dylan up to the college, performing, back in his early days, pre electric, before I got there. “He wore long sleeves, but I noticed tracks in his arms, looked awful, and the manager wouldn’t let anyone talk to him,” Mr. Sinclair said. “But once he was on stage, he was compelling.”

I preferred Judy Collins, but I thought that was interesting. Interesting just that a professor of poetry would bring him up there. Well, they liked music too, especially folk, and some jazz. I liked Judy Collins.

And then the ride up higher into the hills, dirt road, good dirt road but dirt, “When we get to his ranch, if you can call it that, I have to be very careful, this car is so low to the ground,” Mr. Sinclair said. “So far I’ve made it up and back, even in the dark, without losing my muffler.”

That was the kind of thing I never ever thought of. I could drive, I’d learned on my father’s awful little DKW, and why he ever bought that car I didn’t know, but it had a stick shift, so I understood the vroom vroom. You got the revs up or you didn’t go anywhere. Gotta have the revs.

And then enfolded by the dark pines… they really shut out the light. And then a clearing, other cars parked there, some motorcycles, pretty much any kind of motor vehicle you can imagine driven mostly by young people with more imagination than money. The Sinclairs’ little Spitfire was one of the shinier cars there.

So we get out of the car, the Sinclairs had sandals on, we all wore sandals in that weather, and they just completely unceremoniously and matter of factly took off their clothes. So I took off mine. Took no time flat. Eva said, “I go barefoot, because I go barefoot all the time at home.”

Mr. Sinclair said, “And I don’t. They won’t let me teach classes barefoot.”

I thought about that. My feet were tough, I went barefoot everywhere, most of the time. I just left my sandals on the package shelf, and stuffed my handful of clothes into the car’s little trunk with theirs.

“If you have a wallet I’ll put it with ours,” Mr. Sinclair said, and there was this little compartment in the trunk where you wouldn’t go looking.

“We’ve never had any trouble,” Eva said. “But still, you never know.”

And I followed them, walking Indian file, between the cars to a bonfire, quite the bonfire in a stone pit, and a bunch of people around it, and the strong smell of marijuana in the air. A very strong smell. Pretty much the whole atmosphere. Well, that’s exaggerating. But no mistaking it was there, and people were passing around joints. Just like the usual student party, except no rock and roll, and no clothes.

Zen Goddess

No clothes for most of us, though Mr. Sinclair proceeded to put on this heavy leather apron, and plastic safety goggles, and over by a stump chopping block, he started splitting firewood. It was cut to length but not split, just like the wood we used to get to heat our cottages for those cool summer mornings in Maine. And I could see why the apron, you wouldn’t want an errant piece of kindling heading toward that equipment down below. It would hurt or worse.

While Eva, I thought, looked even prettier without her clothes than in them. Just a very pretty figure, nice curves, and as I’d learned for myself, most women’s clothing is designed for women with larger rather than smaller breasts. So if you’re smaller, your breasts just disappear in blouses.

My solution was to wear no bra, something a professor’s wife probably couldn’t quite do. But even so, we looked much much prettier, our real selves, without anything on. Why do you think painters prefer women nudes? All those curves, all those details. Doesn’t matter whether you want to go to bed with them or not.

Speaking of which, and not to my surprise, with the clouds of disinhibiting grass floating around, and I was not too inhibited, in fact just plain uninhibited down there, Mr. Sinclair passed me a joint and I pulled it in. I liked pot. Not all the time, I wasn’t one of those people who had a joint like a glass of wine or a beer every day. But it didn’t take much for me, I’m sensitive to chemicals anyway. Eva had gone over to what appeared to be the food table, they were putting out food on some long rough sawn planks that I imagined were headed for some building eventually. My impression was the whole shebang was pretty new, the poet and his wife pretty newly arrived there, everything new, the gatherings new, the do it yourself building new, it was everything or a lot of what you heard in the rock and roll of the time. Say maybe the Doors’ Light My Fire, Break On Through, etc, etc. They got their name from The Doors of Perception, from the title of I forget whose book, but it wasn’t “Come on, Baby, let’s go riding in my car.” Some whole larger social something, that I at once felt part of and not part of. There was the against and the for in a lot of it, but not always clearly said against what, even if you probably couldn’t have gotten it onto the radio. Not everyone was going to play the Fugs’ Slum Goddess (from the Lower East Side), even if you knew where or what the Lower East Side might be. It wasn’t a surfing place in a Beach Boys song.

But there was something going on, and this party, which was kind of a gathering, and kind of an invented ritual, how do you mix Zen in with screwing somebody who just walks up to you? Because there was that, too. Which also didn’t surprise me. I suppose Mr. Sinclair had read my poems about just walking around the campus in the evening in my diaphanous blouse and miniskirt, just to see what might happen. Diaphanous being a word I’d learned from reading Lord Jim in one of Mr. Sinclair’s literature classes. You didn’t need to have read Lord Jim to buy the blouse, but I had, and what a wonderful idea. Diaphanous. Seen and unseen, the light and the dark coming through, and so fine the breeze caressed you. I did have good legs, miniskirts suited me just fine, the mini-er the better. But you know, at that time in those places, it wasn’t as if I was making a spectacle of myself. Or if I was, I had company. I wasn’t alone. But you walk around like that, and young men, hopefully the right young man for that evening, will notice you. That was, for a while, my idea of a Saturday night.

While parties. Huh. I was shy. I am shy. I will always be shy. And all those people. That’s when the marijuana helped, and it was helping now. Eva offered me something to eat, but I wasn’t hungry. I wandered over to Mr. Sinclair’s chopping block. He was making good progress with the wood. Not a heavy built man, but good muscles. All that work he did on their own house, turning it into a real, rather finely built house from some inexpensively built little summer place someone had thrown up there, in their very pretty little canyon. A good looking man, clothed or un…

He just sort of paused, me reappearing, gave me this look, the same look he gave you in class if he was about to say something, without saying all of it, assuming and expecting you to infer the rest, and he said, “You know, if someone comes up to you and asks, ‘Do you want to go for a walk,’ that’s the code.”

And for about a half second I thought, or started to think, Why in the world would I want to go for a walk in the dark? I just finished getting my broken elbow back. The last thing I need is to trip over something…. And then, even as I thought that or started to, I caught that look in his eye or maybe it was just firelight, and I thought, OK, I get it. That’s how it happens. You don’t have to walk very far, just out into the darkness. Not that some people were even bothering with darkness. I had noticed that.

Take A Little Walk With Me

So, sure. I stood there, not close to Mr. Sinclair, who was busy splitting wood, leather apron in front, bare backside behind, and pretty soon a guy materialized, not too far away from me, but also not uncomfortably close, and kind of looking at me, not sizing me up physically, I didn’t have the feeling of any of that, just trying to decide, I imagined, if he should approach me. So I just stood there while he tried to make up his mind, I didn’t want to look standoffish, but I didn’t want to look Take me I’m yours either. He would have to have some initiative. Also, of course, I was a little bit stoned. It doesn’t take much. I am very sensitive to chemicals.

I think Mr. Sinclair noticed him and kept chopping wood, just to make it clear that he and I weren’t paired off, which we certainly weren’t. I imagined that at some point he and Eva would go off into the bushes together, so to speak. They seemed very devoted to each other, and they were ten years older than a lot of the people there. I had just never noticed Mr. Sinclair’s eyes wandering in a speculative fashion. Appreciative, of course, men can’t help that. It’s built in. And the smarter ones know enough not to be obvious about it. But really, they can’t help themselves. That’s what they’re designed to do. While we’re designed to look at men and ask ourselves, how would I feel, how do I feel about him, even if we have no interest in them or that particular person, or ourselves actually doing something about it. And I am about the most opposite of seductive as a woman can possibly be. I certainly will do, if I want to, whatever I can to interest somebody, but my point in interesting them is to end up making love with them. The whole business of enticing guys just to have them trailing around after you like a fan club, making the big bedroom eyes, the acting a little hard to get, that’s never been me.

And in the same way, I also have no interest in the kinds of guys who collect, or want to collect, groupies. A herd of whom seemed to be surrounding the poet. Honestly, he could have picked any one of them, and maybe he would or did, and just looking at that little gathering I thought, I am not going over there.

So I stood there, not too long, I could tell the guy was trying to decide if I might be interested, or available, and I kind of liked the way he did just stand there, giving me some time to decide, and I decided I was, looked over at him full face, and he kind of smiled a half smile, as if it was kind of a, not joke, but a light rather than heavy situation, and said, “Want to go for a walk?”

And I took a step toward him, so we were within arm’s length of each other, and I said, “You know what, I do. Just not too far. I don’t want to trip over something in the dark. It could incapacitate me for lovemaking.”

I didn’t know if Mr. Sinclair was listening between chops, but I think maybe just having him around made me feel at once a little protected, and also a little bold, because I felt protected. I might otherwise not have been so direct, or verbal. But then again also, I was stoned. Not too stoned. I could walk, I could talk. But what few inhibitions I had with regard to… well, I was stoned. It felt good. The shyness gone. Temporarily gone.

He was a nice looking man, blond, kind of almost the Greek god, Greek athlete physique, not one of the strong men but a runner type, if they actually were blond, rather than all white marble, and alive. But a nice physique, nice face, and he very nicely offered me his hand, which I accepted, and kind of walked me over toward a spot that was out of the firelight, but no bushwhacking. Of course people could see us, but as I mentioned, there was enough going on so that we’d hardly be the center of attraction, and anyway I didn’t care. I am not an exhibitionist, but when I’m making love I am really just focused on the person who’s making love with me, everyone and everything else disappears.

Except I did say, “You know, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d kind of like to do it on all fours. The last time I made love on bare ground au missionaire, I ended up with scars on my back.”

“Oh, OK. Sure.”

I don’t know why some people think that’s an undignified position for women. You can concentrate totally on what’s happening to you… not on someone’s facial expression. And he was very nice, stroking my back, my thighs, touching my breasts. Thoughtful and gradual, not rushing, but not holding back from the crescendo, either. I reached back underneath me, grabbed his balls and just held him there, for a few moments, squeezing. And then he shivered. I don’t know why, but I took it as a compliment. That had happened with other guys, a few times, and I don’t know why it happened, but I took it as a compliment, of sorts.

And then I just kind of leaned myself forward a bit, still on my hands and knees, to let him know I was done, and by the time I was turned around and starting to stand up he was giving me his hand to help me up, very much the gentleman. A nice guy. He let my hand go when I was up, and while I didn’t want to kiss him, this wasn’t romance, I did want to thank him, so I said, “Thank you,” and kissed my fingertips and placed them on his cheek, and he held my hand till we got back to the light, steadying me, till I was standing completely upright, and I let his hand go, and he let mine go. We were done. And I said, “I think I’ll just stand here, for a minute or two, but thank you again.” And he did the same for me, kissed his fingertips, touched them to my cheek, and turned and was gone. I watched his nice ass as he walked away in the semi light, and then I drew my hand up from between my legs and smeared those liquids, mostly sticky, over my entire belly, where I knew they’d be a kind of a glaze, almost shiny, and tell anyone who was interested that I was already part of this thing, whatever it was. I was interested in more, just to see what it would be like. And of course, I was stoned.

In The Midnight Hour

And then I wandered over to the food table, not feeling very hungry… my mind, such as it was, was on other things, and Eva was still there, I think she sort of took charge of the food the way Mr. Sinclair took charge of the chopping, somebody had to do it, and if they weren’t going to be part of the general fooling around, they were good people to do it. Adults, so to speak, with only each other, so far as I could tell, on their minds. But I did have a purpose of sorts, I wanted Eva to look up and see me, see my long hair, which was no longer neatly combed, it’s not as if I was carrying a purse on me or even had pockets, so no comb. And I wanted her to see that glaze on my belly, so she knew and saw me looking happy or at least content and composed, so she’d know all was well so far as I was concerned, she needn’t worry or be concerned about me, I could take care of myself and the activities. So I placed myself on the opposite side of the table from Eva. She looked up from the comestibles, I could see she did see my tummy, being at the same level as the table, probably the first thing she saw, and I thought I saw just the slightest bit of a smile before, being Eva, she suppressed it, a pretty self contained woman, although I did think she looked beautiful with her long, thick hair down, not in the usual professor’s wife tight bun, pulled back and into a tight bun, ala Georgia O’Keefe. Eva loved Native American art and motifs, but unlike some of the other women there, she wasn’t wearing any jewelry or ornament. I’d seen some of her stuff, it looked like the real thing, I wouldn’t wear good Hopi silver or Navajo turquoise around there either. It might be seen as flashy display, which she wouldn’t want to do. And it might just get lost, which I knew would really bother her. I understood jewelry. I hadn’t decided to make it yet, then, but I did love jewelry in pretty much the same way she did. It wasn’t all gold and diamonds.

And then I wandered over toward Mr. Sinclair, who’d taken off his apron, he looked better without the apron, and seemed to be surveying, momentarily, the pile of ready to burn cordwood he’d created. They’d have enough for the rest of the evening, even if it ran late, and the cool crept in later. The knock-knock of his cordwood ends on the stump as he split them had been a counterpoint to someone’s Native American drumming, or maybe just plain drumming, off almost in the dark, on the other side of the fire.

I just wandered over, kind of slow mo of course, I was a bit stoned, and said, “You’ve been busy.”

“Done now,” he said.

And I could see him look at me too. The tummy said it all, just as I intended.

“How are you?” he asked, with that light but genuine intonation he always had.

“Just fine,” I said. “This is very interesting.”

“Yes it is. Do you want to stay a bit longer?”

“Oh sure,” I said. This was adventure screwing, but also a kind of theater, the poet the director or maybe producer, a kind of improv theater where you started out with a general direction and ideas, and just saw what would happen. I was interested to see what would happen, with me anyway, but I felt absolutely none of the kind of religious spiritual totemic meaning of it all, that you could see some people embraced. Maybe it would have been helpful, or more deeply meaningful, and it obviously meant a lot to the poet, I thought he was kind of like William Butler Yeats with his wacky theosophy, Madame Blavatsky talking to spirits and table rapping and all that. Goofy, but Yeats got great poetry out of it. While for this California poet it was this mélange of Zen and screwing and Native American and I don’t know what. He got fine, original American poetry out of it, including this theater or ritual or celebration or whatever it was. Kind of an early English, before the enclosure Maypole, when for a couple days in spring the farm villagers went wild, and ran off into the fields with whomever. Or something going back to Middle Eastern matriarchies. Isis and all that. I didn’t know. Also, I was stoned.

Once Is Not Enough

…But not so stoned as to not notice a very handsome African-American man, just kind of standing around, looking around but not in a voyeuristic sort of way. He seemed to be making a point of not staring. But he was there, and what a magnificent man he was, just physically, but he also had a strong face. If Paul Robeson, who’d just died a few years before, in Moscow of all places, had come back in his prime, he might have looked like this guy. My father, who was I think generally prejudiced in a way against pretty much anyone with more melatonin in their skin than we had, Dad said he’d heard Robeson singing in a concert in New York City in the 1930s, and it was just breathtaking. Somehow performers, for my father, if they excelled or even if they didn’t excel, but were just good, were for my father in an entirely different category from everyone else, suddenly he became race and gender blind. I think it was because he’d been a performer himself once, on Broadway, and then directed others for TV. They were their own race apart, where skin color didn’t matter. And I think I learned that skin color didn’t matter from Dad because of his setting performers apart, I just imagined them to include everybody. And after all, I was riding the same school bus as Cab Calloway’s girls, and boy were they pretty and talented, back in elementary school. So as I looked at this guy, just standing there, people just sort of gliding around him, I didn’t have any fantasies, he wasn’t Paul Robeson come back to life, but I thought, someone somehow ought to be paying attention to him, and I decided that woman could be me, depending of course on how he felt about some woman with small breasts and who barely came up to his chest, but with long honey brown hair, now a bit tangled, and the evidence of previous activity shining on her tummy. I had no idea, but I thought I’d try. I usually, almost always, virtually always let a man make the first move, so they wouldn’t think I was too forward and be put off. But I decided I’d just go right up to him and see what happened… and I was stoned.

So I did. And I just went up him and said, “Hello.”

And he looked down, I really had to almost crane my neck to look up at him. And he said,
“Hello.” A nice baritone.

“Are you interested?” I asked, though from what I saw, already changing shape, I could tell he was. Or at least part of him was.

“Yes I am,” he said. “You can see that I am.”

“Well, I am too,” I said. Though of course that was obvious.

“Let’s get away from the crowd,” he said, his face with a questioning look.

“Good idea,” I said. And we headed out of the firelight, his hand just lightly on my shoulder. Just maintaining contact, nothing more.

So we headed to the darkness, the semi darkness, and I began to wonder just how we were going to manage this thing, because he was so much taller. I really didn’t want to lie on my back, even if he kept his weight off me, as I felt pretty sure but not positive he would. So I said, “I’ve already been on my hands and knees. Would you mind if I just rode on top of you?”

“That would be fine with me.”

I thought with his muscles he’d be better padded on the ground than I could be, and I wasn’t going to be a lot of weight for him.
So he got down, and I got down on top of him.

“Just go as far as you’re comfortable,” he said. He was big, though no bigger than I’d seen before.

“I think we’ll be all right,” I said.

And we were. I didn’t want him to come too soon, I didn’t want him to come too late. I wanted to do what nice lovers did to me. They got you interested, they got you stimulated, they prolonged it for a while, then they built to a crescendo. Just like The Doors’ Light My Fire, only different instruments.

He fitted. This business about small women being small all over is just as ridiculous as a short man being short all over. That part is not proportional, I’d figured that out pretty quickly.
So he needn’t have worried. I was sitting right down on him, and I could tell that made him very happy.

He had his hands behind his head, cradling his head. Leaving me completely to do what I wanted, no pulling down or holding, which made me feel comfortable.

It felt great. And afterward I just stayed there on him. I wasn’t ready to get up, and he wasn’t ready to have me get up. Just kind of savoring the afterglow.

“Do you come here often?” he said, after awhile, very quietly.

“Never before in my life,” I said. I knew he was asking a question. “Some friends brought me here, I think we’ll probably be going home soon.”

Celestial Secrets

The cool night’s breeze in the convertible revives me somewhat. At least, I felt more awake. I probably, I must have still been stoned, but I felt sharper, or maybe I just felt able to say things I wouldn’t have otherwise, as we headed down out of those pine covered hills, the twisting two lane in the gold country night, heading back to the school, back to the nighttime everyday, from what now seemed like an extraordinary, extraordinary alfresco theatrical production, improv, in which I’d been one of the performers. I’d noticed people just kind of looking at me afterward, before we left, so I suppose some people did notice, but then those things on that belly of mine, all those leaves and vines curling and curving around from mid thigh and up over my tummy and then down again the other thigh, the leaves reaching toward my mound but never touching… I suppose you don’t see that every day. I hadn’t. I’d just imagined it and done it, the charcoal of the fire, black outlines, the green of the body paint. That would wash off, or at least I assumed it would, but I thought someday, maybe, I would get a tattoo, give myself a tattoo of the same, and then it would be, that part of me, the pagan nymph, would be there forever.

Or so I thought, with the clarity of, I’m sure, the still stoned. It could end up all a midsummer night’s dream, of sorts, Mr. Sinclair had taught that the pagan, the pre-Christian, remained and sustained itself in almost all societies, and in their practices, however changed or diluted. The English, supposedly Christianized by then for centuries, with their Maypole.

I understood that, I felt that. And yet at the same time I felt like I was over something, done with something. Maybe at 20 it was time to leave the adventure screwing behind. I’d washed off the glaze, that jism that could have been from any man, and put on an individual design. Kind of like going from those prehistoric figures of the woman with the exaggerated mound, exaggerated cunt and exaggerated breasts, to some more individual work of art, the design rather than the thing itself, or both. Art. And I thought as I did it, this could be, maybe should be, what I do. That reality of who I was, I wasn’t denying it, but embodying it in the medium of physical design. Leave the words to someone else. This was my belly. This was my cunt, in case you didn’t notice it. Through the medium of physical design.

Because I’d felt, in the end, that my own adventure screwing, walking a campus in the evening in diaphanous blouse and miniskirt, had in its own way meant more to me, been more individual, than this gathering under the pines, with the poet as the producer director. That was in some way his art, but we were just acting, the actors. It didn’t make me uncomfortable, but unlike the other actors, or at least some of them, I didn’t believe in the play. I couldn’t make sense of it. For me it was a mélange of a bit of Native American of this tribe, a bit of that tribe, some Zen Buddhism of a highly idiosyncratic kind thrown in. Somehow it added up to a gestalt, it all became some unified vision for at least some of the people there, something to believe in, some vision of life and spirituality. And good for them. But I’d washed off that glaze and drawn the drawing.

Or maybe that was all just the grass talking. Maybe I just wasn’t a party person. Too shy. Never had been, never would be. So there.

When we’d gone far enough to somehow be out of the embrace of those pines, that place, that theater or religious ritual, and just back into good old California as I knew and thought of it every day, Mr. Sinclair called back to me, almost casually, he just kind of half turned his head, momentarily, though Eva turned around and looked at me full on, and Mr. Sinclair said, “What did you think?”

“Well, it was pleasant. I have no regrets,” I said, just in case he was worrying, or wondering.

“But you wouldn’t do it again?”

“I don’t think so. I think I’ve gone as far with that sort of thing as I can go or need to go.”

“I love your design,” Eva said.

I was surprised she said anything. A very reserved woman. I always had the feeling that she couldn’t get quite past her personal reserve, in reality. But yes in her imagination. Otherwise, why would they have been there?

“It just came to me,” I said. Because that was true.
The glaze went only so far for me, just because of who I was, or am… yes, part of everybody else, that admixture of individual and also the flesh mingled with everyone else’s, that was who I was, we all were. That jism glaze had felt like the blood ritual of other cultures, but about life not death, and pleasure not pain. I believed in that. But then really, to say it, convey that part of us that goes all the way back, before those rituals warped into authority and direction, to recapture when we are just individuals unplaced by someone else’s script, you have to become an individual. Make art of some kind, necessarily individual, to pass on the message. From a jism glaze to carbon black outline and green painted leaves. At once of the body, as art always is, but also beyond it, into a medium.

“Didn’t you say your family were painters?” Mr. Sinclair asked.

In a way, because he couldn’t quite face me, just turn his head momentarily as he drove, not fast, but the road wasn’t all twists and turns now, the little British sports car just kind of purring along in fourth, or maybe it was overdrive, my brother’s had an overdrive, so Mr. Sinclair wasn’t quite facing me… it left a kind of space for saying things that you couldn’t say, maybe, face to face, with nothing else going on.

“They were,” I said. “All of them. My mother still is.”

“Have you thought of it?” Mr. Sinclair asked.

“Well, they’re all so good. I’m not sure the family needs another.”

“I’m not an artist or art critic. But I see something there, in what you drew. From the body and from the soul, the combination of the two. I can’t do that. That’s why I’m a critic, not a poet or a sculptor.”

I hadn’t thought of that. For me, Mr. Sinclair and Eva had always been just who they were, I hadn’t imagined them wanting or thinking about doing anything else. The untold stories, wishes, dreams.

“There’s something there, I think, if you want it,” Mr. Sinclair said.

“Most people couldn’t just knock that out, freehand, on themselves or a canvas,” Eva said.

She’d gone to art school and she’d decided she didn’t have it, I knew that. But she’d seen people who did.

“Thank you. I’ll think about it,” I said.

And the stars were bright above us and the cool breeze mussed our hair, and we didn’t care, neither Eva nor I. Even Eva let her hair loose once in a while.

© Peter Tuttle
Rose in Bloom is an excerpt from Peter Tuttle’s novel of the same name.