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Sport 35: Winter 2007



Bradley has had his teeth capped. They are bridal in their whiteness and they contradict the lines on his face. Janice wonders whether he is going to have botox for the wedding. He is fit and taut in a desiccated way, as if none of the sweat he lost in his exercise regime has been replaced, despite his Evian-stocked fridge. Janice wonders whether he is petrified, a fallen tree in the forest. He shakes her hand and his is dry and rough, like bark.

Janice scans the menu, and her mother deflects the waiter with the bread basket. 'No carbs for me, thank you. Not until the honeymoon.'

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'But I want carbs. I like bread,' says Janice.

'I can see,' says her mother, casting her eye down Janice's T-shirt-wrapped torso. Then she looks up.

'Hey, Janice.' Janice lurches. Stops herself from adopting the brace position under the table.

It is Peter. Janice's mother smiles.

'I was just passing, on my way to the bar, and I saw you in here.'

'Allow me to introduce myself,' Janice's mother busts in. 'I'm Veronica. This is Bradley, my fiancé. And who might you be?'

'I'm Peter, Janice's boyfriend.'

'No you're not,' says Janice, teeth so tight they creak. But her mother is cooing.

'So pleased to finally make your acquaintance. Why don't you join us?'

Her voice is louder than Janice's, and before she knows it, Peter is sharing the sangría, congratulating himself on the strawberries that have plopped into his glass, recommending the gambas al ajillo, and inserting the I'm-so-charming CD he played the night they first met. Janice's mother cannot help but be seduced.

Bradley notices Janice's displeasure. 'Why the long face, dear?' he asks, as if he's her stepfather already.

'Oh don't mind her,' says Janice's mother. 'She's always been moody.'

'Hey,' says Peter. 'I have my camera here. Would it bother anyone if I took your picture?'

'Not at all,' says Bradley.

'Get the hell away with your camera. I don't want to be in any more of your stupid movies,' says Janice.

Janice's mother is fixing her lipstick. 'Do I have anything in between my teeth?' she asks Tom.

'You look beautiful,' says Bradley, and Janice wants to be sick. Peter has already flicked open his digital camera and has pushed record. Janice has to do something. She pushes Peter with both hands.

'Did you hear me?' she says. 'Go.'

Peter stumbles backwards. Janice kicks his shins, and his camera catches flashes of her pointy toes, her sharp little heels, but remains steady in its resolve. 'Don't you have any boundaries?' she yells.

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Peter shrugs, aims the camera at Janice's face. 'It's been great meeting you, Veronica, Bradley. But I think I'd better leave. The boys are waiting for me.' He walks backwards out the door, his camera still pointing at them. 'By the way, Janice, I got some great footage here. Thanks for your help.'

'Why did you have to send him away, Janice?' her mother asks. 'I liked him. He was dishy. Not like your other boyfriends: disasters, every one. Do you think he could film our wedding?'

All of a sudden Janice wants to pour the jug of sangría over her white dress. She has no scab to pick. 'He won't be filming your wedding, Mom. And neither will I, because I'm going to Barcelona.'

'You are? When did you decide that?'

Janice shrugs. She picks up her bag.

'Wait, you can't go! Who will be my bridesmaid?' her mother calls after her.

Janice walks out the door. She fumbles for a cigarette, the emergency break-up one stored in the secret compartment. Damn, no matches.

'Spare a quarter, Miss?' a homeless guy calls to her from the street corner.

'Sure,' she says, 'if you've got a light.'

And he does. She gives him a dollar. She takes a drag, emitting a dragon's nose of smoke.

'Feels good, huh?' says the homeless guy. 'Do you have a spare?'

'Sorry,' says Janice. 'This is my only one.' And then she leaves, walking south, trailing grey ribbons behind her.