Thursday, August 12, 2004

For Matt*

Being cajoled into spending hours upon hours sifting through slick, grimy sand in search of shark's teeth was not what I had in mind for the day. But Marilyn was good like that--a fleeting flash of toothy grin, a quick sparkle in her eye--and I was sold. It was inevitable. I would be there.

Standing on one leg, storklike, she pushed her foot through the water, sending ripples across the surface until her toes at last broke through and spattered brownish droplets all over the front of my khaki shorts. Crap. "Marilyn," I complained "I have to work later. In these shorts."

"Oh, like they really are going to care at the marina," she laughed, a tinkling bell. "Don't be so rectitudinous. I swear, you're turning into the biggest stick-in-the-mud!"

They might care, I thought to myself, they just might. In the boss's eyes, showing up to work with soiled shorts was tantamount to insubordination. But as long as I could get through the door and past Mr. Weston without him seeing the stains, I could probably pass them off as an on-the-job casualty. I hastily licked my fingers and rubbed them against the spots, hoping I could remove the obvious traces of dirt before the stain became set in.

"Got one!" a triumphant Marilyn exclaimed, whipping her hand above her head, water streaming off in an inelegant arc. Something small and black was held daintily between her thumb and forefinger. "Wanna see?" Her eyes held mine for a second, then darted back to her prize.

I sloshed carefully through the muddy sand, trying not to get any more dirt on my shorts, and held out my hand. Into it she dropped the sharks' tooth, inky black and smooth as a polished stone. "I thought it'd be white." I said in awe.

"Nope. They're usually black around here. I'm not sure if it's because they're fossilized, or because the sharks around here just have black teeth."

I looked down at the tooth. "So, how old do you think this is?"

Marilyn shrugged. "I should look up more about them some day." She grinned. "Or not. Remember that movie Can't But Me Love? Where the guy showed the girl the moon through a telescope, and then she said that the idea of the moon was less romantic afterwards?"

I nodded, a quizzical expression on my face.

"I'd hate to feel that way about anything."

I raised an eyebrow at this. "So, you're saying that you don't want to learn things for fear of finding them less interesting?"

Marilyn rolled her eyes heavenward and smiled at me with an expression of amused patience. "Jon, I'm not saying I'm planning to become an abjurer of knowledge. I just don't need to know all the little details of every little thing I find interesting." She laughed a short, bemused laugh at the very idea. "You goober!" she finished.

I smiled a bit at this, focused on the tendrils of iced-tea-colored hair that looped wildly around her ears, wanting to twine my fingers in them. "Well, I didn't mean to imply that you didn't want to learn anything. I mean, I didn't mean to disparage you or anything. I was kidding, mostly."

Marilyn smiled, her face a mask of imperturbability. "Don't worry about it." She held out a cupped hand for me to drop the sharks' tooth into and our fingers brushed briefly, a small electric jolt.

I stood awkwardly, my hands at my sides, clenched into fists of hesitation and self-doubt. Still smiling, she came closer and closer, clouds of dirt billowing up around her feet like watery smoke. She didn't stop until one of her feet slid against mine under the sand. "Ow!" I exclaimed with a start, jumping a little and reaching for the scraped limb.

Her hand moved to my foot, up the curve of my calf, sliding to the side of my thigh. Surprised, I let the foot drop back into the water with a splash. Droplets erupted around us. Double-crap. "Now, I really am going to have to change before I go in to work..." I said remorsefully.

"Or, don't go in at all." She looked at me imploringly, hazel eyes fringed with iced-tea eyelashes. I wondered if everything was the color of iced tea. Work suddenly seemed a sad, faraway place; one laden with hebetude.

I caught her hand suddenly, laced my fingers through hers as she pulled them both slowly towards her, grazing her left nipple ever so lightly, flashing me the kind of grin you usually get only from tawdry street-corner types.

I never made it to work.

* You will note the absence of subpoena, jimjams, and quiddity. The first two just didn't work, and although I could have worked in quiddity, well, I just plain didn't. But there ya go, 9 out of 12.

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