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ELEVEN BEDS/William Harrison Night on Lake Dallas in the Texas summer: the water gives back the starlight and his girlfriend is fifteen years old, freckled, and they await the magic of the moonrise. Over soft grass she spreads out a blanket , and the scent of her burns inside it, a delicate soapy ignition. The adults—her parents and their friends—drink out of bottles wrapped in brown paper sacks. Their laughter skims over the waves: signals to other campsites, to other family groups and to the sexual ache of the evening. They stand on a rock ledge beside the shore, boy and girl, leaning together, their bare shoulders touching, as the adults unfold and arrange cots. Her father watches them as he sips from his bottle, though, and he knows what the night means. He calls the boy's name—hey, Will, c'mere!—and the invitation is a command. The girl squeezes Will's fingers as he leaves her side. When he's gone the mother comes and places an arm around her daughter, whispering, and the lake whispers back, expectant, and through the giant cottonwood trees on the far shore an orange and lunatic moon hides in the branches. The father points and says it plainly: if she sleeps over here, then put your cot over there. As they talk their faces are shadowed, and the moon rises larger than a fist, so crazy in its hallucination that it drives away the stars. Later the father drifts off into drunken sleep as the nightbirds catch the moonlight in their frenzy. Over the moondark lake the picnic ground receives the noise of cicadas and the tin music of a distant radio as Will searches for the girl's blanket, finding it, at last, in the deep blue shade of the trees. He calls out and hears Myla's soft reply. They wrap themselves in the blanket, in the darkness, and with a single economical movement she's naked for him. Never mind the others, never mind anything, and their rhythms become a single rhythm as she guides him into her small body. Her virginal bloodshed mixes with the dried blood on his shirt, blood ofthe fish he caught in the afternoon, and suddenly they're experts at this ancient act. He whispers, yes, keep me here, righthere, take me and keep me, never let me go, righthere in this place, and a voice deep inside her answers, please, yes, take me away, take me to all the places I can never go alone, get me out of here. The Missouri Review · 11 At a lodge in New Mexico they meet again. They are students at different colleges on a winter holiday, and he boldly takes a seat across from her in the cafeteria on top of the mountain . They both wear rented ski boots and borrowed clothing, and as he takes his seat clumsily he bumps the table and spills a bit of everyone's hot chocolate. Myla's black ski bib shows off her figure, and her incandescent freckles part in a smile. His manner is all pretension: a forced laughter, too much talk, a boast that he edits his campus newspaper—a fact she already knows—and an awkward and boyish insouciance. Her girlfriends look on in smirking wonder as he tries to impress them all, but then suddenly he says, okay, time for another run, and he casually suggests that MyIa should go down the slope with him. To the amazement of her friends she quickly rises, fumbles with her mittens, drops them, trips in her silver boots, groans with pleasure and goes along. They ski through bright powder for two hundred yards, then pull up breathlessly . Where can we go? They enter the dormitory he shares with five other guys where they pull the goose-down coverlets off all the beds, steal all the pillows and fill up the bathroom with softness. It's the only door they can lock, and they cushion the tile floor, the fixtures, and spare only the mirrors so they can become their own audience. Then feverish acrobatics and wild display: the mirrors say, yes, do that, go there...


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