The sessions and panels and lunches all by themselves were plenty to deal with already, and then to top it all Theresa (the sweet big girl with the guitar and curly hair) Theresa twisted his arm and next thing he knew he'd signed up for the excursion, the mule train expedition. Cracked ground, he remembers, and flat purple mountains, harsh shadows, the smell of sage. The mules with those hairy sticky-out ears. Horse dad, donkey mom, maybe not so graceful but tougher and smarter than both. Theresa was happy and smiling and frisking around. If they stayed behind for coffee or even a bite and a bottle of wine at some place where they could sit and talk but not about sixth-grade numeracy skills, then the moon would be out and a tiny fingernail glimmer of something, something that might happen to them, till the two phones gleaming blue in parallel, good cop bad cop, told them to call home, check in, choose right.
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