You know the Sloops, but they don’t know you. Oak Sloop, Daffodil Sloop, and their son, Augustus Sloop. “Excuse me, sir,” Oak says, squeezing past you during Easter services. “So sorry,” says Daffodil, a step behind, clutching the pale blue tail of his sportcoat. Augustus treads on your foot and sticks out his tongue.
They knew you once, though. Daffodil did, back when she was home from Miss Pendergast’s Academy on spring break and strung out and said she would die, just keel over dead with disappointment, if you didn’t leap from the roof of her house into the pool. She would wait for you in the poolhouse, she said, naked. So you jumped (you barely made it–you scraped your hand on the edge of the deck right before you hit the water), but the only thing in the poolhouse was a lopsided inflatable shark. And you stood there, dripping with poolwater and high from having cheated death, and still you loved Daffodil.
Oak tried to get you to play games, weird games, when you were little and your mothers got together to drink and go through the L.L. Bean catalogue. You politely declined. Oak said, “What are you? Scared?” Your mother bought the dog a bed monogrammed with “Chester.” The dog’s name was Giles. Chester was the name of your mother’s lover. That was her idea of a joke. Oak got kicked out of prep school for nameless sins. He tried to get you to join the Marines with him. He said, “What are you? Scared?” But the day you left for bootcamp, Oak was nowhere to be found. And you sat there, with the drill sargeant yelling in your face and your life as you knew it dwindling in the back window, and still you loved Oak.
Augustus says he wants to be a garbage man. His mother says he musn’t be.
On him: pincord regent sportcoat, linen trousers, stain resistant hawaiian floral tie, a curse. On her: just something she picked up at the shop in town. On little him: chinos, seersucker, unreasonable expectations.