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CAREFUL/Kwí/z Kamel WHEN PATTY sees Garrett in his new swim trunks, her heart springs up like a cobra. It's not just his extreme thinness and whiteness, as if he's been somebody 's prisoner. It's also the scars. Though not large they are plentiful, scattered across his back and chest and legs, some pale and reserved, others rosy with youth. After a year of marriage Patty has accepted the scars, but she never ceases to notice them. Now, faced with an afternoon pool party at Garrett's parents' house, she's worried—what will the other guests think when they see the mortified flesh of her husband? The swim trunks are wide, plaid, ridiculous. Garrett does a Paris runway strut across the living room, tossing his tangled blond hair. She considers the striped shadows of his ribs. "Maybe you should put onjeans and long sleeves," she says. "So you don't burn." Already at ten a.m. the July sun is clanging outside their apartment windows. Everything they own—her computer, his guitars, their herniated couch—looks sickly and dim inside the shades that Patty's pulled. She says, "Maybe we should stay here." "I thought you wanted to visit them." Garrett rarely says "parents," never "mother" or "father." He says, "Come on. It'll be, mmm, interesting ." Pattypushes his hair out ofhis eyes. "We could go downtown instead." He brushes her hand away from his face, then catches it and squeezes. "Patty. Say yes." This is something they told him in drug treatment, six months before she met him: Never say no if you can say yes. To life, that is. He accepted the advice as a jewel of wisdom and each day turns it this way and that, forcing Patty to admire it with him. "Say it." He plants a line ofjoking kisses up her arm. She knows she should say, No, it won't be good for you, but he's so eager to jump into the day that for the hundredth time since that first nuptial yes she surrenders . The fact is, Patty hates Garrett's parents and has always wanted to meet them. Until she married Garrett, Patty never thought of herself as a passionate person. She'd had a couple of affairs and a couple of jobs, she The Missouri Review · 9 ate no red meat and watched no TV, she dreamed nothing worth repeating . But now sometimes she almost laughs when she sees her reflection: This plump computer programmer with dental braces and sensible shoes nourishes a hate so strong it can make her ears ring. It's a rocket ride hate, an atom bomb hate, and it's aimed directly at Garrett's parents, Bart and Martha Sunday. They're throwing the pool party to celebrate the house they've just bought. The expensively printed invitation rattled Patty. She'd been a long time constructing a logical childhood for Garrett, and it depended in part on poverty. She realizes that she's probably used too many stock props like hot irons and dark closets, but she needs something to explain how a child could grow up to walk through three separate plates of glass, fall out of two apartment windows, crack his skull on tree branches and cupboard doors, and always grab the sharp side of the carving knife. All accidentally, he says. True, he was on drugs when most of this happened, but Patty believes in thoroughly codified laws of cause and effect. She thinks his parents hurt him. The Sundays live an hour away, in the city's swankest, farthest suburb . Garrett called them last Christmas, but he didn't let Patty talk. As far as she knows, he never sees them. "They don't like me, I'm their worst memory," he said, laughing. He never mentions his childhood. When Patty brings it up, he says, "I love them." When she persists, he covers his ears and chants, "I love them, I love them, I do, I do," until she throws up her hands and shuts herself in the bedroom. Then he follows her in and they take each other's clothes off. Patty's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 9-20
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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