The Eliot Girls

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Authors: Krista Bridge
deck chair. Marlow ambled over for a pat, but the greeting he received in return was distracted. After a moment, she launched into her version of the day’s events. Within seconds, Richard was shaking his head.
    â€œWhat? What is it?” Ruth said
    â€œKate Gibson has no bearing here.”
    â€œBut—”
    â€œShe’s pretty and confident, and that prosthetic—”
    Ruth rolled her eyes. This was not the first time Richard had been keen to point out that Kate’s prosthetic was a decent double for the real thing and that, in any case, the adjustments in deportment she had to make to compensate for her missing limb lent her an against-the-odds magnificence, a worldly confidence that made her popularity inevitable—never mind the fact that, on top of Kate’s own obvious charms, Eliot liked what a one-armed head girl said about its values. No matter what he said, Richard could not make Ruth accept his sour interpretation, and she was determined that her view was the one Audrey would share.
    At the end of a long day, she wanted to find an ally in her husband, but behind Richard’s every word trailed the history of all the disagreements they’d ever had about whether she should give up on getting Audrey into Eliot. “Let’s not fight about Eliot anymore,” she said.
    â€œI don’t want to fight about Eliot.”
    â€œYou know I just want what’s best for her. I still remember my friend Mary leaving Leaside to go to Havergal.”
    Richard sighed.
    â€œAnd she loved telling me about how her IQ was 120. Like that was good!”
    â€œYes, yes.”
    â€œIf my mother had let me—”
    â€œRuth, we’ve been through this.”
    Ruth could still conjure the outrage she felt almost thirty years earlier as Antonia, opposed to private education, tore up Ruth’s acceptance letter and let it flutter into the garbage, after all the trouble Ruth had gone to, gathering brochures, taking the entrance exam, the IQ test (of which she never received the results). But she knew that the more forcefully she advanced her point of view, the more Richard would withdraw. He had already resumed throwing the ball for the dogs, a reminder that his patience was limited.
    â€œAll right, then,” she said. “How was your day? What happened with the pit?”
    There was some anger behind the forceful pitch that followed. The fluorescent orb went sailing over the fence into their rear neighbour’s yard.
    â€œI bought some time. Managed to convince the owner to let me board him temporarily.”
    â€œGood for you.”
    â€œIt’s not a solution. But he’s promised to think it through.”
    â€œWhat I can’t understand is why he wouldn’t be happy just to let you find the dog a new home.”
    â€œHe insists he could never forgive himself if the dog hurt someone. I think we’re dealing with more of a control issue, though.”
    â€œWell, stand your ground. You’re the expert.”
    Stevie and McGill scrabbled at the back of the yard, whimpering at the sight of their inaccessible toy, but Richard abandoned the game. Stepping up to the deck, he stood over Ruth for a moment, his head blocking the descending sun. Then he pulled her out of the chair and put his arms around her, pressing his scratchy cheek against hers. Ruth had a weird urge to laugh. She could hear it inside her head, a lunatic cackle. Her skin prickled with sensitivity at his closeness. They had not made love in a long time. Weeks, she thought. Maybe a month. She cast a backward glance at August, and then July. She could not remember sex in as long as the weather had been hot. That couldn’t be right. The fact that she couldn’t even remember seemed more distressing than the prospect that it had really been since spring.
    He took her hand in his and regarded it contemplatively. “Your hands look just the same as when we first

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