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OtterSummer 8.13-Late-Her

Later, after The Muse has gone to bed and I’m cleaning up the mess from that buffet supper, The Grand Otter leans against the kitchen counter. “Can I put some fresh mozzarella on my pasta?” I first respond negatively, then second-guess myself. “Sure, why not?”

She agrees to try the salad with the sour cherry dressing while her pasta, leftover from the supper, reheats in the oven. The conversation might seem pedestrian without understanding what came before.

Young women run through a wringer these days. Sometime between twelve and fifteen, they lose themselves and start trying on alternative identities. The Otter had vacillated between tough and defeated, smart and stupid, beautiful and revolting, checking the view from each. The Muse and I often feared the choices she’d default into making while she lined up the choices she might make. It’s been a roller coaster ride for us all.

To find myself, now, in the present with a polite, slightly shy, obviously happy fifteen year old leaves me feeling deeply contented. We don’t need any deep conversations late at night. Chit chat works. No deeper meanings, blinding insights, or well-intended advice allowed, just some simple activities of daily living. A bednight snack, the perfect context for being alive.

Later, I migrate into my office and The Otter follows me, sitting in the side chair as I peruse the day’s mail. Nothing could be easier. She asks about going to the library tomorrow, recording with that awesome microphone, feeding the feral cats in the morning. No pregnant revelation pending. No secret dark and deep. No controversy or contention. Those we’ll leave for later, if that later ever comes. Sure, it’s bound to come again. It knows the way. It’s passed through here before, but tonight, later, the late her seems satisfied with the present her.

I asked her to clean up her mess in the kitchen and she hopped right to it, disappearing into her room after. No goodnight said, and none needed. It was a very good day and an even better later.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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