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Never Let Me Go

I met will in Dorado Beach. He was playing volleyball in the pool, and I jumped in when the first game was over and got on the team.


The pool was a sparkling sapphire, glimmering about well-fed bodies pampered with sun and oils. The male bodies were different shapes and great to look at -- patriarchs and sons, husbands and brothers; even the ones who were taut and tan had the accommodating eyes of family men. The women were fewer and youngish.


On the second rotation, I moved next to Will. "You're pretty good," he said. "Strong ... BLANK BLANK BLANK." I knew immediately that he meant "for a woman." He was smiling and goading me.


"You're pretty perceptive," I said. "BLANK BLANK BLANK."


We laughed.


Our team won and got the piña coladas. As we stood around the pool, I kind of quietly checked out Will's form. He was naturally muscular though obviously not a workout freak. Will told me he was a paleontologist at Penn, and we discovered pretty quickly that we knew some of the same people. I used to work at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia before I moved to the Jersey Shore -- down ashore, as they say in Philadelphia -- to open a used-books store. The bookstore was an escape; I was reinventing myself. But then I had been doing that ever since I was born in that garish glass house with the big neon sign on top that said "JESUS SAVES." You could see it for miles around.


It was at the top of a mountain, close to Maggie Valley. I guess you might think it crazy to leave a place as green and beautiful as the Smoky Mountains, but that's another story.