ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue One, Jan. 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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ARTESIAN GRAND BAHAMA HOT TUB, WINTER 2005 "Problem with jets or poltergeist?" -- Hut Tub Forum, Fiction by MEAGAN CASS He bought it without asking her, like the big screen TV in '89, that huge, dark mirror, like the Honda Accord in '94, the fusbol table for the kids in '96 that now sits unused in their basement -- rows of still, faceless men, their youngest gone off to college upstate. He bought it even though they are selling the house this coming summer, moving away, separately or together, she can't say yet. "Remember that trip to Killington? The hot tub?" he asked when the construction crew showed up back in September, in a truck that said "Back Yard Dreams" on it, the words fringed in cartoon palms. "Negative twenty and we're out in that water. It's so cold our hair is freezing, but we're burning up." She nodded, though these days she can barely recall those nineties ski trips, the five of them locking into quick release bindings, their middle boy, Ari, always going too fast, wrecking, so that Max had to help him collect his strewn gear, find the missing poles, the gloves, the expensive Sports Barn hat. It must have moved her to see him do this, in his parka and faded ski-pants, bought back in Buffalo in college, when it was enough for them to cross-country flat fields, come home and make love in their rented bungalow, when they didn't know about Killington or Mt. Snow or Jay Peak, didn't know how lift tickets could be a kind of pretentious jewelry, displayed on jacket zippers all season long, didn't know the ways marriage would make them unrecognizable to themselves, the ways they would betray each other, would feel like they were walking in ski boots in their own house, their movements alien, hulking, dangerous to every small, bare thing. What she remembers is watching the X-files in high ceilinged vacation condos, their faces bathed in neon green light, her body sore, her tongue thick with cabernet. She remembers the blue trails in the blue mornings, moving cautiously downhill in what the instructors called the pie shape, unable to parallel the way her athletic husband and children could. She remembers being the rickety boat they were pulling, or struggling to free themselves from. They looked back at her now and then to make sure she was still there, waving, then turning forward again, their lithe bodies getting further and further away. Now here she is, her kids living in other time zones, a barn of a house in a Northern suburb, a bad real estate market, this husband who eats fast food on his way home from work, Doritos in bed, refuses to exercise, to take care of himself, even though her younger brother died of a heart attack last June. This husband who fell in love with that woman at his job, the one with her same first name and a decent sense of humor, a woman who could take a joke, or so he told her, the first time he left, five years ago. He's been gone, and back, and gone -- now back for six months. And yes, he says he loves her, that he made a mistake, and yes she's said she's trying to

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