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11. GEORGE: The Heart Wants

eorge, on his knees, watched as Taryn slid down into the water, legs bent, to rinse her long blonde hair. Her eyes were squeezed shut and her face was scrunched up, layered over with a veil of bubbles.

She stayed underwater so long he nearly reached down to rescue her, but then suddenly she bolted upright, water cascading off her hair and down her lovely back.

“You’ve still got shampoo in it,” he said, running a hand over her sleek, soapy head.

“Can you wash it again?” she said, twisting around to look at him, beads of water suspended like dew from her eyelashes. “Like in the beauty parlor.”

He laughed. Beth, who had been playing with her plastic horses on the floor, scrambled to her feet and rushed over to them.

“I want to play beauty parlor,” she said, stationing herself behind Taryn’s back. “Please, Mommy.”

“Okay, baby,” said Taryn. “You can do my hair and Daddy will do my back.”

Taryn leaned forward against her bent knees in the old white porcelain tub, deeper than it was long, rescued from one of the bath houses that was being torn down. The tub was perfect for the houseboat, where space was at a premium. George had built this place himself one long summer, when he and Taryn were first together. She had lain on the dock in the sun in a bikini, reading magazines, while he hammered and sawed and drove nails into the log siding, the cedar-shingled roof. He wanted to create a fairy tale cottage, floating like a magical place on the enchanted lake. At the end of the afternoon, Taryn would join him on a blanket under a tall yellowwood, where they drank beers icy from the cooler. Then, if there was no one in sight, they made love, after which they ran laughing and naked down the dock and jumped into the lake.

George took up the long handled brush now that he used to wash his own back and prepared to scrub Taryn’s.

“No,” she said, pushing it away. “With your hands.”

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