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she grew scarlet carsons in our window box

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Buffy Summers wears wide-skirted dresses in floral prints, cuban heel stockings and low bright pumps. She makes jello salads and coconut cakes for the church luncheons.

She orders a martini at the bar and sits with her legs crossed at the ankle.

The owner of the local Ford dealership watches her french manicured fingers on the stem of her glass, her teeth on an olive.

A woman swings herself onto the bar stool beside Buffy before he can make a move. She’s a woman of the other sort, dark haired and dark eyed, wearing wide leg trousers and oxfords, a stiff-collared shirt unbuttoned low. She’s spinning a fedora around one finger and she lays her free hand on Buffy’s thigh.

She catches the look on the car dealer’s face.

“Hey, mister,” says Faith, red mouth curving like a dare, “she’s my sister.”

Buffy sets her hair in pink plastic curlers, sits at her vanity in negligee and silky bathrobe, candy pink. She lights a cigarette. Faith lounges on the bed, naked and dangerous that way. Her hair wild and her mouth bitten full. Watches Buffy roll her stockings up her thighs.

“You gotta let loose, B,” Faith purrs.

Buffy drops ash into a tray shaped like a pink seashell, slants a look over her shoulder. “I thought I just did,” she says, smug, eyes on Faith’s mouth.

“Sure, but now you’re gonna go make macaroons for First Baptist.”

“You love my macaroons.”

Faith slides along the bed, tucks her chin over Buffy’s shoulder, snaps the elastic of her garter belt against her thighs. “Yeah,” she says, “but you’re only gonna let me have two. And you’re gonna give the rest to a bunch of people who’d burn us at the stake if they could.”

Buffy blows smoke at the lazy ceiling fan, turns her face against Faith’s, looks at them in the mirror, pink and gold and black and red. All woman.

“Let ‘em try,” she says, and she puts her mouth on Faith’s.

Blows out smoke, breathes in fire.

Buffy puts on boy’s jeans and a flannel shirt, ties her hair up in a kerchief. She washes the kitchen floor by hand, rakes the leaves off the lawn, dusts the furniture with lemon Pledge.

She prunes the roses with a hunting knife.

When Faith comes home, hair falling loose and shirt hanging looser, her hat cocked over one eye and her lipstick still flawless, Buffy’s wearing a green cotton dress and an apron. Her hair is smooth and shiny and she has two martinis waiting, both of them dirty.

Faith drinks hers down in one long swallow designed to make Buffy stare at her throat. She runs her hands under Faith’s suspenders, tugs her close.

“Hi, honey,” she whispers against her Chanel scented skin. “How was your day?”

Faith drops the martini glass and put her hands on Buffy’s waist.

“Now I’ll have to clean that up.”

“I’ll do it later,” Faith promises. She sounds like she always does, which is to say, completely insincere. Her mouth takes like wax and paint.

“No you won’t.” Buffy rolls her eyes but she giggles when Faith pinches her.

“I will. I’ll mow the lawn, too. And change the oil in the car. And clean out the rain gutters, just come with me.” She’s tipping Buffy down onto the (spotless) sofa as she says this.

“Anywhere. Always.”