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Their father fixed his drink when he came home and their mother made iced tea. His face was red, his heavy brows drawn together. One look at him kept the girls quiet. After dinner, he watched the news, then listened to a Beethoven symphony, then called Cassie inside. She'd been running her finger back and forth on the red bottle-brush, imagining it soft enough to brush an angel's hair. She was allowing herself to think precious. She wondered if angels used blow dryers. Dot would have some great answers, funny ones. Cassie would have asked her, but for her father's beckoning voice.


He had poured more scotch and water in his glass. The color was lighter than her tortoise-shell eyeglass rims. "Cass, have you read The Black Stallion?"

"Yes, Daddy, twice."

"Treasure Island?"

"Yes." She was always surprised he did not remember. He had asked her before.

"Great Expectations?"

"She's too young." Dot was in the room. "She still likes Babar the King."

Cassie giggled. Dot was right. Their father yelled.

"Shut your mouth, damn it." Dot might have taken up arms. She was tense. She looked at the clock instead. She left, went out the front door. She had friends who had cars and there was nothing her parents could do about it.

Their mother was in the room now, rubbing her eyes. "I had such a delicious nap."

"The kid's illiterate," Cassie's father said.