A Dakota Education

by D. E. Fredd

Castleton High was devastated. Principal Collins felt it hit closer to home than September 11 or the space shuttle Columbia’s break up. Mrs. Burchstedt had been at the school since her student teaching days while attending North Dakota State. Before her tragic death at thirty-eight, she had been a part of the school and the Central North Dakota community for over seventeen years. Several young women who had been in Jodi’s physical education or hygiene classes were now mothers themselves. The athletes on her soccer, softball and volleyball teams revered her.

If there was a positive side to her death, it was that the spread of her pancreatic cancer was extraordinarily quick; three weeks from a diagnosis at the Bismarck Medical Center to a quiet death at home with her husband of nineteen years, Paul, by her side. She did not suffer; there was almost no pain.

When the news was announced over the intercom on Wednesday morning, there was stunned silence. As classes passed, students wept openly, and Mr. Collins then decided to call the busses and send them home. School would be open the next day with guidance fully staffed to offer grief counseling.

* * *

Jodi Burchstedt married Paul during their junior year at North Dakota State. They were both from Fargo, and it was the joke that he had initially proposed in the second grade, but it took her thirteen years to make up her mind. He joined the Castleton staff the year after she did, teaching junior and senior English. She took care of the body; he embellished the mind. They were the king and queen of the school. Boys developed crushes on Mrs. B. while an equal number of girls swooned when Mr. B. read Yeats aloud.

As a couple, they did everything together. They were co-scout leaders as well as youth soccer coaches. They were avid outdoorsmen, shooting rapids with reckless abandon and traipsing across the frozen landscape on cross country ski expeditions. They thought nothing of going off on long weekends to cities as far away as Las Vegas or San Francisco. It became painful for anyone on the staff who endured their own day to day, mundane existence to ask Jodi on Monday or after a holiday what she and Paul had been up to. And she was the envy of most of the female staff when she talked about her relationship with Paul. He helped prepare gourmet meals, enjoyed ballroom dancing, loved yard sales and didn’t mind spending an afternoon helping her shop for the house or outfits. And then there were always the little “Just to say I love you flowers” delivered to school on holidays, birthdays or anniversaries.

The only drawback, if it even was one, was their inability to have children. Early on, however, they adopted two young girls, nine and eleven, from Croatia and, despite dealing with enormous language and adjustment issues, managed to get them through high school and out on their own into the working and married world. Then they happily went back to their empty nest.

* * *

Three weeks after the funeral, a cold, hard reality settled in for some of the staff. As impolitic as it was for some women to think about, there was a very eligible man out there for the taking. Men in North Dakota, educated men especially, who know how to treat a woman were not that easy to come by. It was true that Jodi’s shadow would be difficult to overcome, but the reward was well worth the effort and, in the Castleton High community, there were three unmarried women who seriously began to wrestle with the situation.

Tammy Bunnell worked with special education classes. She was twenty-eight and the most attractive of the three. She was blonde, purported to enjoy reading and loved crafts. The ten year difference between she and Paul was a mere bagatelle in her view, and she had even gone on line to research a list of successful marriages where there was the same or greater age differential.

Claire Stelzer was a forty year-old woman of devout faith. Her church was an important factor in her life, and, when Paul needed comfort, she was there for him. They knelt together in prayer many times during his ordeal. Her phone calls provided him with comforting Bible passages to get him through his trial. She also taught English and helped with his lesson plans when he was out, although writing and grammar were more her forte than literary analysis.

The last of the three was Deidre Vintner, the thirty-six year old math department lead teacher. It was she who, after evaluating the data and calculating the odds, deemed it a foregone conclusion that Paul Burchstedt was the answer to her unmarried plight. In sports parlance, he was a number one draft pick. He could turn a franchise, a life around. Break the bank if you have to; in twenty years it will seem like small change.

As Deidre analyzed it, Tammy was not much of a factor. Yes, she was, by Castleton standards, a knockout, but intellectually she seemed just one step ahead of the special education classes she ran. She had a tendency to be overly happy, not a sin in and of itself, but her voice, when meeting anyone, began high and, as the conversation continued, rose even higher. Her laugh could shatter storm windows.

Tammy had been asked several times by Principal Collins to dress a bit more conservatively. Her motto, if left to her own devices, would be “shorter and tighter.” She saw herself as a victim of the male hierarchy and was continually seeking opinions from the distaff side of the staff concerning any outfit. She had conical breasts, pointy little things which Diedre nicknamed “tin-tits” in a moment of rancor.

But Project Paul was no slam dunk for Deidre. She was fairly attractive, educated, a bit of an intellectual, and her mode of dress had a hint of sophistication to it, not that anyone in the land of jeans, Old Navy sweatshirts and comfortable running shoes ever noticed. Her favorite getaway during school breaks was to drive the four hundred plus miles to Minneapolis, take a hotel room, shop, visit art galleries and museums and see whatever plays were in town. Her taste in music was eclectic, and she prided herself that she had been to see Garrison Keillor’ s A Prairie Home Companion radio program a half a dozen times.

She had been close to marriage. For six years she and Earl Wintermute were an item. He had a string of tire stores, one each in Jamestown, Valley City and another one opening soon in New Rockford. Earl was in his late forties, divorced, but he had money, and it was with him that she went to London once and spent a week in Mexico four winters ago. She was never in love with him but could find no glaring reason to break it off.

Three years ago he made a TV commercial wherein he portrayed himself as the Tire Chief of the Dakotas. He wanted her to be in it and she agreed to play an Indian maiden who needed tires for her Dodge Dakota. When she saw the ad on channel 36, she was appalled not only at its political incorrectness but also how stupid she looked and what a clown Earl was. At the end of the spot, when, attired in a war bonnet, she viewed his huge belt buckle, pot belly and deliberate bad grammar so as to relate to his customer base, she was repelled by him and went back over the many disgusting times she had endured his body odor and beer breath as he ground his beefy body against hers.

Since their breakup she had been an independent female. Other women would accept the first ride that slowed down for them; Deidre Vintner had her eyes on a BMW even if she had to hijack it.

* * *

Getting into position for a run at Paul was the easy part. She was not in the best of physical shape so she began an exercise routine. The extra ten pounds she had accumulated on her thighs and hips began to melt away. She managed to hack her way into the school computer system and check the e-mails he received in the weeks since Jodi’s death. There was nothing much but school stuff and tons of condolences. His library account was quite active before Jodi’s death. There was a book on archery which she noted as possibly being decent insider information, and there were three novels by Anthony Trollope as well as a new biography on him which she jotted down and ordered on line from Amazon.

The real problem was--how to have anything more than a condolence conversation. She had seen him in the faculty lounge a week after the funeral and spent her ammunition with respect to the “if-you-ever-need-anything” and “I’m-there-for-you” conversations. Since then she had resorted to asking him how he was doing on a daily basis until she sensed he was getting annoyed. She watched with disdain his first day back as Tammy sprinted down the hall to hug him, ramming her dagger breasts into his chest so hard that Deidre swore they left stab wounds as she pulled back sobbing, “Oh, you poor man” in C above middle C.

Claire Stelzer was the main competition. She graduated from the University of Mary in Bismarck years ago and had all the makings of a nun with the exception of her intense desire to have a baby. At close to forty-five, time was running out. Deidre was fairly certain, as much as she hated to admit it, that Claire, queen of the religious pamphlet, was sincere in her dogged message to Paul that “God works in mysterious ways.” If a psychiatrist had suggested that her real motive behind sitting with Paul each day and bringing hot dishes to the house every evening was an orgasmic and reproductive roll in the hay, she would have fainted. One might as well accuse her of being a lesbian.

Not that Claire was unattractive. In fact a makeover artist could establish quite a reputation if he took her on. Her hair style was—well, one might say she needed a style other than the quick shower and air dry method. Her clothes made her look dumpy, but at an end of year faculty picnic Deidre was surprised to see Claire in a swim suit which revealed very nice legs, decent breasts and a behind that some men might consider cute. She was banking on the premise that Claire had little idea of her physical assets and would sooner take her own life than be perceived as going after a widower when the wife’s body was not yet three months in the grave.

Like any good business person trying to find a marketing angle to sell a product, Deidre, as she jogged, drove, or sat staring at the TV, used the time to come up with a way to get to Paul. She did come up with an idea, but almost let it slip by her like someone panning for gold for hours on end and thinking the few glistening speck not worth the bother. When she did examine it, she felt it was just too audacious to work and immediately dropped it. The next morning, as she prepared for her two mile run before school, it floated back to the surface like a gangland slaying victim freed from its concrete overshoes. It was bold. It was shameless and probably immoral, but it was the best she could produce and time was a factor. Its rationale was that Paul had experienced a terrible loss; what if she also experienced a similar fate. She was an only child. While she was in graduate school, her parents moved to Nebraska (considered a warmer climate by many Dakotans) and died within a year of one another before she had begun teaching. She had never spoken of her family except to say that she was a Dakotan born and raised, but her roots had been transplanted to Nebraska. She did go there every now and then to visit some aunts and uncles on her mother’s side, but that was the extent of it.

It was fairly straightforward then. Her father would die. Cancer would be nice, and her first choice was the prostrate variety but a quick internet browse left her with the view that a painful battle with stomach cancer would engender more sympathy. As far as she knew, the school never checked on these things. After all, who would lie about the death of a parent? If she called in Tuesday night that would give her the rest of the week to the fake a visit to the funeral in Omaha, return home and be back in school the grieving daughter by Monday. There was a sublime beauty to the scheme.

“Hello, Mr. Collins, this is Deidre Vintner. I don’t know how to tell you this but . . . “

* * *

The fabricated funeral was on Saturday. To account for the time she would be gone, she decided to head for Minneapolis on Wednesday, a city she knew well and could easily kill time in. As she began the drive, she was depressed. She had never been close to her parents, her father especially. When he died, it was a relief because, during obligatory family visits, she had difficulty enduring the awkward, silent moments after he got past asking her how school was. There were tears when she and her mother buried him, but hers were shed more for her mother’s lonely plight than any mourning for her father.

When she stopped for lunch at a diner near St Cloud, her spirits began to lift. She would treat the next few days as a vacation. For the past three months she had been working on Paul’s case twenty-four hours a day. It had consumed her time physically and mentally. She lost twelve pounds, managed to read Trollope’s Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux as well as Zen and the Art of Archery which wasn’t a bad book at all. She had endured Saint Claire, Tammy Tin Tits and any number of students for whom Algebra II was a bit less complicated than turning water into wine.

When she hit her hotel in Minneapolis that afternoon, traffic notwithstanding, she felt expansive. She upgraded the room, ordered a bottle of wine and used up all the free bath products in a leisurely soak. By six she was sitting Indian style, the complimentary terry cloth robed draped over her shoulders, on the king sized bed surrounded by the hotel magazine, Where, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There were any number of art films she had read about that sounded good, the play Proof, which had a math background to it, and a touring company of Cabaret. As she lay back comforted by the cultural bounty spread before her, she thought of what it would be like if Paul were here to share with her. She let her fingers wander and began to masturbate to his image. When she was done, she slipped into a comfortable sleep. It was just eight o’clock.

* * *

She spent Thursday shopping. Her mood was still exuberant. She brought the bags back to the hotel and tried everything on again. She was unsure about one dress and weighed taking it back versus the time she could spend doing other things. She decided to keep it and took the bundles down to her car in the parking garage under the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” theory. She booked a table for one at Madigan’s and splurged on the surf and turf, Alaskan king crab legs and an eight ounce fillet mignon, and had two Bombay martinis. She walked up to the box office and got a center section seat to Cabaret and was overwhelmed by how good the touring cast was. By eleven she was in the hotel bar nursing a gin and tonic when Carl Spofford introduced himself and bought her two more. Carl sold expansion joints used in bridges, sidewalks and any other place there was concrete against concrete. The motto of his company, Condex, was “Tread On Us”. By one in the morning they were in his room, his personal expansion joint on display until just before sunrise when Deidre slunk back to her room.

She slept in Friday morning as she was tired and wanted to avoid Carl who was due to fly home to Kansas. Her phone beeped several times between ten and one and she ignored it. She ordered room service at three and by five was headed out to the Cinema Truffaut for an evening of subtitles.

Saturday brought guilt. It was bound to happen, like a bad storm the forecasters had predicted days ago, and now the clouds were beginning to roll in, lower and darken. She had spent close to fifteen hundred dollars on accommodations, meals and entertainment. Clothes and accent pieces for the house approached that figure as well. The drive back on Sunday always seemed twice as long, and the one woman, Bette Davis-style, funeral drama she would have to write, produce, direct and star in on Monday was another albatross around her neck.

She thought about leaving on Saturday afternoon, but the desk could not guarantee they’d be able to rent her room in which case she would be charged even if she weren’t in it. So she stayed in most of the day fearing that, if she did go out, she would spend more money. She went to see Proof that evening and would have enjoyed it more if she hadn’t been pre-occupied. She scanned the hotel bar afterwards looking for another Carl but gave two would-be suitors the brush-off and was in her room by midnight. She couldn’t sleep so she flipped the TV on. There was nothing. In a strange combination of curiosity and ennui, she used the remote to order movies from the “Blue” network and channel-surfed between three porn films. At first they were interesting although she longed for more male anatomical shots and realized just how sexist these movies were. There were some eye-opening scenes involving the ancient art of blow jobs and a few other techniques that were duly noted, but finally she turned the sound off, conjured up Paul’s image and, together with the well hung studs on the screen, pleasured herself into a fitful sleep.

She was on the road by eight Sunday morning. She wanted to make good time but realized that a ticket for speeding would be verification she was in Minnesota and not Nebraska. She spent the trip going over and over her routine. Was there a flaw? Did she mention to someone fifteen years ago that her parents were dead? Had she written it down anywhere, perhaps on some application?

Once home in Melville, she left the car in the drive, cleared the stoop of some condolence bundles and threw her travel bag into the laundry room. The phone was blinking, and she sat for several minutes listening to the many messages of sympathy. Claire was one of the first and read a passage from Coronintans. She would like to come over and sit Sunday night but would understand at this moment if Deidre wanted to be alone. She listened to over a dozen well wishers and was beginning to panic but then it came. She cupped her hands and held them over her mouth as he spoke. Her heart was pounding.

“Oh God, Dee.” There was a pause and she could hear him breathing into the receiver. “I don’t know what to say to you, just, just . . . “ Then there was silence and a static click as he hung up. She had done it! He had taken the bait!

It was all she could do to stop from calling him, but that would have been her worst move. She was a World War II sub commander stalking a prized battleship; run silent, run deep until the time to surface and strike was right.

* * *

Their courtship lasted several months. It began slowly like edging into the water at Devil’s Lake in early summer. They met for lunch, ran a few errands together and chatted over coffee. This continued until school let out for the summer, and they had more free time. Dee “developed” a phobia about being alone in her own home. Paul stayed over a few nights and slept platonically on the couch as a short term cure. To thank him for his kindness, she cleaned his entire house but quickly recognized that he felt uncomfortable with her at his address. They began kissing and hugging, but it was just a friendly peck on the cheek; they were just “mates” as the English would say.

Deidre knew that she had to make another breakthrough. She proposed a trip to Omaha. There was some legal paper work to take care of. It would take a day to drive down, an overnight stay and then zip back the next morning. Nothing was mentioned about sleeping arrangements until they were well past Sioux City on Interstate 29 when Paul broached the subject. “Would you feel comfortable with one room or two at the Motel Six?”

She thought she handled it well with a, “Let’s cheap out for one; we’re teachers, you know.”

The next morning she let him sleep late as she drove into Omaha, did a little window shopping, bought a manila envelope and stuffed it with blank paper to make her visit to her supposed lawyer look official. When she got back around three, they checked out and began the drive back, getting as far as Sioux Falls, South Dakota before dinner and the licentious urge to check into another motel overtook them again.

They spent most every day of that summer together. Their preferred venue for sex was her home as there were too many memories of Jodi in his. From Dee’s point of view this was a totally new experience. Sex with Earl had been a weekend roll in the hay, Saturday night and maybe a Sunday morning “quickie” send off. With Paul it was twice daily during the week and the sky was the limit on weekends. She felt like a pitcher in spring training asked to go nine innings the first week. He was a conscientious lover, however, and if her own pleasure was the price to pay for having him by her side so often, so be it.

They discussed how things should go when school reopened. Her place in Melville was fifteen miles from his home in Carrington. Castleton was a regional school drawing from many towns so their private life was no secret as they had been seen out several times. She fielded questions from people at school as to what might be happening and had been circumspect with a “just friends” comment.

But there was no reason to sneak around. They were both unmarried adults, and Jodi’s death would be a year in October, yet they still drove to one of the larger cities when they wanted a special dinner or a movie. They spent the fall months being cordial to each other at work but passionate in bed in her home where he now stayed almost every night. The grapevine was bent double with gossip that needed harvesting. To settle the matter Paul decided to propose during Thanksgiving break, and Deidre returned to school with a diamond to the envy of all.

When school let out in June, they went to Fargo and, in a civil ceremony with Paul’s two daughter and their husbands present, tied the knot. For the honeymoon they flew to Boston and spent a week exploring the historical sights, taking in a ball game and doing the museums. For Deidre it was the greatest week of her life as she reveled in using the term “my husband” in even the most mundane situations.

He sold his house in Carrington and used her home as their base. It was a bit smaller, but the rooms were actually larger and the lot big enough to support a garden that Paul kept threatening to plant. He took over the redecorating job, not that her ideas had been weak, but it meant selecting furniture that would further bond them. His tastes tended towards a Victorian style--wingback chairs and heavy looking pieces covered in damask or velvet. He took over what had been a spare bedroom and made it into his study replete with built-in book cases floor to ceiling.

He was handy. All she had to do was suggest something and he went to work musing as to whether it was a supporting wall and, if they could open up this or that space, a new and grander entrance way to the dining room would result. One morning her car wouldn’t start. She was ready to dial the garage when he came out in his robe, opened the hood and got it going with the admonition that it was an alternator. He’d pick one up today and slap it in when she got home.

At school the next year she had a new status. She was the good sport victor around Tammy or Claire. She played her cards close to the vest while discussing their home life, but when school began and the annual homecoming dance was held in late September, she was on cloud nine when they took the floor as husband and wife, faculty king and queen of Castleton High.

He rarely spoke to her about Jodi. When he called the kids, he often went into another room thinking that it might upset Dee. They had an open, communicative relationship and so she brought it up to him that, if Jodi’s name were mentioned, she wouldn’t go around the bend. He thanked her and did gradually begin to talk about the past which, in large measure, included Jodi.

They had grown up together no more than three blocks from each other in Fargo, dated exclusively in high school and college. They thought about getting married in their junior year when Jodi felt she might be pregnant. When it turned out to be a false alarm, they went ahead with it anyway.

They had a happy marriage for about ten years and then things began to hit the doldrums. He grew contemplative here and then offered up that they had worked through that patch and things were the better for it. Dee pressed him for what they had done and he was vague on the matter. When the time was right he would divulge the secret to a good relationship.

* * *

Two years later they had settled into a nice routine. Dee met the girls Jodi and Paul had raised. They and their families were polite. It seemed strange to think of Paul, in his forties, as a grandfather, but he took kindly to the two small girls. They flew to Hawaii and spent a glorious two weeks during one summer vacation and seriously contemplated leaving Castleton and moving out there for good. She was not concerned about carrying on a teaching career as her math background set her up well for a job change, but he was not so sure, aside from sales, that English degree was worth much.

One Sunday morning after a long lovemaking session with breaks for pastry, Paul posed a question that more than surprised her.

“Do you think we’re getting stale in the bedroom department?”

She immediately ran through the past weeks to see if she could locate anything that had given him cause to bring this subject up. “What do you mean?”

Noting her mild distress, he dismissed the remark but under her pressure cooker questioning finally knuckled under.

“Jodi and I started doing it regularly when we were sophomores in high school. After the girls left, we began to get into a rut as it were. I knew every inch of her anatomy and she certainly knew mine. I guess it was like having the same carpeting or kitchen wallpaper for fifteen years; there’s nothing wrong with it, but you want a break from it, a change.

“We talked about things that could spice us up, but then Jodi did something that changed our lives. It was my thirty-second birthday, and we flew to Las Vegas for the February vacation. Our second night there she surprised me by hiring a prostitute. I was stunned and refused but then she said she’d stay in the room if I’d be more comfortable. I was still against it but had to admit that it was a terrific turn on. Anyway we did it. When it was over and we were by ourselves again, we had the greatest sex ever even though we had each shot our wads so to speak on the woman.

“That began a whole new life style for us. Everybody at school thought we were taking trips to kayak the rapids on the Colorado or hike through Yellowstone. We were lying like hell. We joined a swingers club and went to their meetings and swapped mates. A few times we got daring and invited friends to our house and partied.”

Deidre was not listening anymore. She was tracing back to images of Jodi at school, at bake sales and chairing the annual blood drive and had hit a road block when picturing Paul and her groping another woman.

“I know this is a big shift for you, but it brought Jodi and me closer. I’ve kind of kept in contact with some of the folks, professionals like us and very clean. They were there for me when Jodi was sick and even came to the wake. I don’t want to do anything behind your back and, if you say no right now, we don’t ever have to discuss it again.”

“So you just went to peoples’ house and screwed.”

“It’s not like that at all. There are cookouts, trivia contests, maybe watch a DVD; it doesn’t have to end up in bed at all.”

“I don’t want to be with anyone but you.”

“But you would be with me; that’s the whole point. Do you know how many people cheat on each other--thousands. And you never do anything you don’t want to; that’s the golden rule.”

She was up from the bed now, pacing the room. It was like she had severely stubbed her toe and was waiting for the pain to stop so she could assess the damage.

“If you wanted we could get into this gradually, maybe just meet the people. Lennie and Carrie from Williston are a great couple. We could get to know them first, if that’s what’s bothering you.”

He went to comfort her and was surprised when she reached out and held his hand. “Do you really want this?”

“Oh Dee, I can’t tell you how liberating the experience is. It removes all the sham, the artifice from a relationship.”

“Couldn’t we just go to a nudist camp for a day and let it go at that?”

“Well, we tried that actually, but it’s just not the same as being with a bunch of other like-minded people who just want to get it on. Those so-called nature camps are really very conservative, not much goes on except a lot of RV talk.”

“What do you mean by a bunch of other people?” She pushed him away. With each sentence she was drawing images of something akin to Rome in Caligula’s time.

“Sometimes there’s just one couple but at other places there are many people wandering around, and you just do what comes naturally whenever you feel like it.”

She went over to the bed and sat on the edge. If this were a film from the fifties this is where she would have, with all the sang-froid she could muster, lit a cigarette, inhaled, crossed her legs and said something extraordinarily witty. As it was she was trembling both in fear and anger. “Is there anything else I should know about you, Jodi and your friends?”

“Just that sometimes some of the people are into other things. Jodie and I never went that way. But it’s crazy what floats peoples’ boats—golden showers, fisting, that sort of thing, but no underage stuff if that’s what you’re thinking.”

She had no idea what any of those terms meant. So this was what she had worked so hard for. She thought back to the guilt of her half a dozen one night stands in Minneapolis and to her lying in this bed not so many years ago masturbating while picturing the very man who stood naked before her. She thought of Claire and how, but for the grace of her religious fanaticism, she was not sitting here now flipping through the Bible for guidance on the golden shower issue. And Tammy with The Rocky Horror Picture Show spiked breasts--how would Tammy’s special education training have prepared her for this. Suddenly the Earl Wintermutes, Carl Spoffords, porn channels, quadratic equations, Homecoming dances and a dream vacation to Tuscany seemed so remote and way too innocent. She was about to begin a new voyage but, instead of a luxury cruise ship island hopping throughout the Caribbean, she would be introduced to tattooed strangers in leather masks, flagellation and anal penetration.

She glanced up at Paul. He looked ridiculous standing there naked. He was developing a paunch. She stared at his penis, already in the early stages of arousal. She got up and went to him.

“All right, if it’s what you want.”

She heard the breath moan out of him and then roar back in filling the vacuum. It was as if he had been under water all this time and finally surfaced. He began hugging her, kissing the nape of her neck and murmuring indistinctly. She drifted back to when she was fifteen and those bleak Dakota winters where, on Sunday afternoons, the local TV affiliate ran Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies, Lover Come Back, Send Me No Flowers and Pillow Talk. She and her mother loved them as they curled up together on the couch protected from the chill by a communal throw. It had been one of their few bonding moments. Years later and just after her father’s death, she wanted to duplicate that safe haven for them so she went out and rented the films. When they sat down to watch, she was instantly sickened by the knowledge that Hudson was gay. She could not get past the first scene. Every word, every movement was etched in dramatic irony. Her childhood sanctuary, her teenage dream of romance had been destroyed by this perverted Hollywood icon. And now that she was an adult, it was happening again. She would never see anything the same way again. She glanced at their naked reflection in the dresser mirror trying to imagine how they might look to an outside observer. No doubt his swinging friends would want to commemorate their escapades on video tape, the better to get their jollies off when the weather made weekend assignations too difficult. If that were going to be the case, she knew she would need to take off a few more pounds for the camera and perhaps consider a different hair style, one that was easier to take care of, less time consuming, and she would definitely need to add some highlights and soften the color. The saddest aspect, however, and one that was already gnawing at her, was that she would never again be certain whether what happened to her in life was a reward or a punishment. Not that it mattered.


D. E. Fredd lives in Townsend, Massachusetts. He has had or soon will have fiction appear in several literary journals including in The Transatlantic Review, The Southern Humanities Review, Rosebud, The Armchair Aesthete, Word Riot, Prose Toad, Tribal Soul Kitchen, WriteThis, LitVisions, Grasslands Review, Verb Sag, Bullfight, The Pedestal, 3711 Atlantic, Megaera, Double Dare, Slow Trains, Pointed Circle, Raging Face, Cautionary Tales, Poor Mojo and SNReview. Poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Paumanok Review and the Café Review. He teaches Writing and Literature courses part time at New Hampshire Community Technical College.

A Dakota Education
© 2006
by D. E. Fredd






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