In Missy, I see a 14 year old baby-sitter. She is shy and
shame-filled and keeps her body curled from me while we watch The Price is
Right from the large king-sized hotel bed, the expanse of blue comforter
slowly disappearing as I inch nearer to her.
I am living in the sheen of her blonde hair, in the tiny diamond
openings of her Shaker sweater. Next to her, my marriage is not falling apart. I
feel like passing notes folded up into impossible origami.
"The Golf Game," she says. "This is the only part
Eric’ll let me watch."
Bob Barker holds a plastic, oversized golf club on a strip of
Astroturf. He explains that the contestant has to guess the amount of the
products, then sink a short putt for a new car.
Missy fidgets on the bed like she’s urging on a racehorse,
shouting out "$2.57 for the Pine Sol. No, no, you idiot. Progresso Soup is not
ninety-nine cents. You’ll be shooting this thing from Mars."
I pull back her hair and trace the grooves of her ear with my
"Wait," she says. "I want to see if she makes
The woman, in palm-leafed shorts and a terri-cloth top, eyes the
shot for a long time, then draws back and, at the last moment, hesitates and
double hits. The ball bounces down the turf and over the hole. The prompted
"Awwww" from the audience follows. Missy sighs.
A model with a name tag that says "Susan" escorts the
woman off stage.
"They’re so pretty," she says. "The best thing
about them is their make up. It’s not easy to put on the way they do. No seams
or caking. Like their own face, but better."
Blemishes and the remnants of blemishes dot Missy’s jaw and
forehead, poke through her base. Sloppy turquoise smears cover her eyelids.
"You’re as pretty as anyone," I say.
She does not answer, stares at the Ford truck commercial.
"What time do I have to get you back?"
"I don’t know. I said ten."
I tug at her side so she’ll roll towards me, but she resists
and heads to the bathroom. Before she goes in she pauses, looks at me, scratches
the side of her leg.
I shut off the TV, and for a good ten minutes there is silence.
I think of Meredith at home watering the herb garden, of our first vacation to
Mackinac Island six years ago, of the time at the Chinese restaurant when the
small Asian boy stroked the back of her hair, his mother saying it was the first
time he had ever seen red hair.
I am almost asleep when the shower comes on, and for the longest
time I listen to the water splash to the empty tub.
Vince Samarco is a former public relations writer
and advertising copywriter from Detroit. He recently completed his Ph.D.
in Creative Writing at The University of Southern Mississippi and begins a
teaching assignment at McKendree College outside St. Louis in the fall.