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Family Circle 2010 Fiction Contest: "The Secrets of Celestial Navigation"

"What time does your painter get here?" Kara asks, emphasizing the possessive adjective. She is already dressed in her swimsuit and bright red sweatshirt with its lifeguard logo. She is an awesome vision of good health and natural beauty and so far seems totally unaware of that power. Although Julian and I have parted ways on so many things, we remain a united front when it comes to Kara. These years are so critical and we bear the guilt of changing her life as she knew it and are hoping that this summer will be a good one.

We are jointly proud that she has earned a place in the Junior Lifeguard Program, teaching water safety and environmental awareness to a group of preteens. I can't imagine swimming 500 yards in the icy Atlantic or doing a 100-yard run on the beach, but so far she loves it. I suspect it might have something to do with the complement of 17-year-old boys who share the uniform.

"I didn't think to ask, actually."

Swinging my legs off the side of the bed I give Kara a quick hug and head for the bathroom, which is steamy from her shower. "I phoned to tell him the key would be over the transom and I've already made a little montage with color swatches and rooms, etcetera." Kara rolls her eyes negating the need for words.


"People don't actually say, etcetera, do they?" She shakes her head but I can see the smirk and she asks, "Is he cute?"

Lately Kara has been hinting that it might be time for me to dip my toes in the dating ocean.

"I don't know... I haven't really thought about it." But I feel heat rise in my face and I quickly turn away.

"Well," Kara says, "If you are even marginally interested in rejoining society, you might want to rethink that braid you've been wearing for three years."

And she is gone.