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THE WINDMILL/Lwcy Ferriss THE TROUGH in the landscape was what fooled you—made the windmill appear to lie just over a hill, when the real distance might be miles. Jess pushed for it still. You'd just dip down, he insisted , looking out the wide picture window from the refectory, and then climb back up again. An hour at the most. "Hour at the least, you mean," said Neal, who balanced caution and adventure better than Jess. "We'd still have time to hang, once we got there. Waste the afternoon ." Neal shrugged; he wasn't much of a waster. "Might be on someone's property." "We can just tell the owners we got lost." "Better to tell them we wanted a look at their windmill." 'They can't care much about it. It's never running." Jess turned back to the deserted table and, standing, knocked off his glass of warm beer, followed by a coffee biscuit. Everyone else had gone—the boarders to the front area where their parents picked them up for the weekend, Steve Mack to Bruges where his girlfriend directed the girls' program. Only the monks in the kitchen remained, waiting to clean up in time for afternoon prayers or whatever they did. Over the tables at the north end of the dining hall, the lights had already been turned off. "What's Russ the Bus doing?" asked Jess. "Eating tarte tatin with the préfecture, probably, who knows," said Neal. Neal was the oldest exchange student, Jess the youngest. Russell, in the middle—they'd lost two others to homesickness early in the fall—was already buying his school uniform a size larger than when he started. "We should probably leave the Mack a note." "Uh-uh. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission." "Vous mettez les plats, non?" came the lunch prefect's gravelly voice as they started out. Trotting back under his black stare, they slid their trays down the chute, then clattered down the iron steps to the broad soccer field. Hoisting his backpack, Jess shaded his eyes. Clearly there was a deep grassy descent, and a field of rye, and then the windmill rose, its great propeller exactly like the cut-out on those cookies Jess' mother used to buy, back home. The sun winked off the motionless blades. Upstairs in the chapel, the chants had begun; from the other side of the The Missouri Review · 34 school, you could hear the occasional honk of a car leaving. Those who stayed for weekends—long-distance boarders, plus the Americans— would get a van trip into town later and probably a soccer match. "Free at last," said Neal as they angled across the field. "For five hours." "Yeah, well hold up, okay? You don't have a train to catch." With effort, Jess shortened his stride; already, at fifteen, he was taller than Neal, taller than most boys he knew. In his backpack he had a dozen coffee-iced biscuits, along with four green apples and two bottles of Pipps. Neal hadn't thought to grab anything—he was one of those guys who'd grown up with other people taking care of the snacks, the clothes, the arrangements. Neal played soccer well enough to have been taken on the school team here. That was apparently part of the motivation, giving Neal soccer abroad. Plus there was the appeal of new places, the language, the way Europeans went about everything . Neal's eyes shone as he explained this enthusiasm to Jess, who never quite caught it but thought his friend would probably ride the crest of girls, college, career, everything that threatened to drown the ordinary guy. Still, Jess was the one who'd remembered the snacks. The day was warm for October; by the time they scrambled over the fence they'd both shucked their flanneljackets. The school had uniforms, blue twill trousers and white shirts with brown ties, so Jess had brought only these jeans and a few T-shirts for days off. His parents weren't rich, like Neal's. The week before he left, his dad had said the hospital was sucking them dry. Still, his dad...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 34-41
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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