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Sport 35: Winter 2007



Janice cleans her nails with her silver hairclip. They are gritty from when she plunged her forefinger and thumb into the window-box of ranunculus to extract a half-smoked cigarette. She had buried it when she heard her buzzer ring last night, and as Peter had climbed the ninety-three steps to her apartment she had executed a dance of the seven veils to shoo away the smell of smoke. She had been so pleased with herself for going without cigarettes for a four-martini date that she had thrown the rest of her Marlboro Lights into the bin outside the corner deli.

'You coulda just handed them to me,' called the local homeless guy after her swing of straight brown hair. 'Saved my arm from this filthy trash.'

Janice balls up the grit and flicks it onto the floorboards. She slides the clip back into her hair and looks at herself in the mirror. She knows she isn't really this way—that her sucked-in cheeks and cocked eyebrows slacken as soon as she turns away—but this arrangement is more pleasing, more Garbo. She wonders how Peter first saw her. Whether he found her striking or odd. Toby, her ex-boyfriend, told her she looked like a horse, that blue blood meant inbred. He swiped her father's ring off her bureau, saying she wouldn't miss it—she had too much. But she does miss it. Like she misses her father. By the time she got hold of Toby's new cell number, calling from a phone box so he couldn't ID her and refuse to answer, he had already pawned it and spent the money on a rare R. Crumb comic.

Janice lights the cigarette. It tastes earthy, but she hasn't watered her window-box in a while, so it isn't damp. She wonders whether Peter is going to call her today. She doesn't think so; she knows the three-days-post-date phone rule. But still, they had so much to say page 157to each other, poised like lemon slices on the rims of their barstools, scalloping each other's sentences. She wants to talk again. He works in Wall Street, but really he's a filmmaker, and that appeals to her. But although she likes her men a little artsy, a little indie, they're usually the ones who need her money. Peter bought the drinks last night, and even though he didn't accompany her home, she was sure that there was something between them, that he must have a no-sex-on-the-first-date policy even if she doesn't. Damn, why won't he call?