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Vince Samarco


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 tongue.

"Wait," she says. "I want to see if she makes it."

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.


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