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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Later that Night

Holding his hand, I crouched behind

the line of bushes, trying

     not to giggle. We were doing what

a week before would have been treason, but now

in the space that peace had opened for our feet,

     we walked gladly.

We were in Golden Gate Park, where we’d sneaked

     as far west as we could, past the cement

     blockhouses, still manned “just in case,” but only

casually guarded, to these bushes, the final

barrier. Just beyond, we could see

the rocky beach. We could smell the ocean. Already, when

we licked our lips, we tasted its salt.

“Wait,” I whispered, and pulled off my shoes.

“Wonderful,” he said, his voice low. “I’ll be shot because

     you stub your toe.” He started moving

down the line of bushes.

I trotted after. “Would you rather be shot because

     my heel twists in the rocks? Either way,

you’ll be dead.”

“When you put it like that… Okay, here we go.”

He’d found the weak point in the fence

we’d heard about, somehow out of range

of searchlights. He lifted one strand of barbed wire, and

stepped on the other. “Good thing some of us

are still wearing shoes.” He glanced at me.

     “Want me to hold your wrap?”

“Please.” I handed him my black stole and started

gathering my skirt together. “Cory, I’m not sure

     about this. I don’t want to wreck my dress.”

There was a moment’s silence. Then:

“Take it off.”

I laughed.

“You’ve got a slip on, don’t you? I promise I won’t tell

     anyone if it’s ripped.”

“Ripped! That’s hardly the issue, is it?”

He sighed, elaborately. “I’ve seen a girl in

a slip before, you know. I have a sister.”

Well, I always was a sucker

for a dare. And that one could not go

     unanswered. I struggled with the sash

for a moment in the dark; then the wrap-around dress

     opened, and dropped away, trailing

from one hand. I was left in my strapless slip—

smooth peach silk, its curved, boned bodice capped by

a narrow edging of Chantilly lace; a wide band of

heavy, matching lace finished the skirt.

“Whew,” said Cory, eyes wide. “Well.” He swallowed in a

most satisfactory manner, glancing up at the

sky, the bushes, and the trees. “Touché.

Maybe that wasn’t such a great idea. I mean,”

he said, “it was a great idea, except—”

“Oh, hush,” I said. “Hold this, will you?”

He took the dress and didn’t drop it. I

     gathered up the skirt

               of my slip.

“Are you concentrating? I don’t want you

letting go of one of those strands, when I’m halfway through.”

“I’m concentrating, I’m concentrating!”

Bending down, I stepped through this

strange gateway to the sea, moving from sandy grass to

rocky sand. At once, with that one step,

the sea was near. Its sound, no longer blocked by bushes,

     surrounded us and

drew us onwards towards its source. We paused while

two searchlights crossed the beach, then scooted forwards

as they swept away, across the

narrow band of dirt, sand, grass, and stones

to the smoothly rounded rock, which let us gently down

on the sand, a pale streak in the starlight before

the darkly gleaming sea. We found a cleft in the rock

that sheltered us from wind

and from the lights which, when they returned,

passed harmlessly over our heads.

There we sat down, together, and

     listened to the ocean.

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