Axidava

Anne

In winter, when the ground was white,
I thought that Anne would be all right;
In summer, quite the other way,
I knew she’d never be O. K.

She liked to go to the theatre, but what she went for was to be amused, as there was enough sadness in real life without going to the theatre for it. She told me that I was just a great big boy; that all men, in fact, were just little boys grown up. I took her to a movie show, and she read most of the captions to me, slowly; and when she read them to herself her lips moved. She never took a drink in days of old when booze was sold and barrooms held their sway—that is my line, not Anne’s—but now she takes a cocktail when one is offered, saying, “This may be my last chance.” Women, she told me, didn’t like her much, but she didn’t care, as she was, she always said, a man’s woman. Just the same, folks said, she told me, that she was wonderful in a sick room.

And so, what with the movies and one thing and another the winter passed. She was glad I was a tennis player, and we’d have some exciting sets in the summer. No, she said games. I should have known then, but I was thinking of her hair and how cool it was to stroke.

Well, one May afternoon there we were on the tennis court. It belonged to a friend of hers, and it hadn’t been rolled recently, nor marked, though you could tell that here a base line and there a service line once had been.

I asked her which court she wanted and she said it didn’t matter; she played equally rottenly on both sides. Nor was that, I found it, overstating things. She served, and called “Ready?” before each service. When she sent a ball far outside she called “Home run!” or “Just out!” And if I served a double fault she said either “Two bad” or “Thank you.” When the score was deuce she called it “Juice!” And when I beat her 6-0—as you could have done, or you, or even you—she said she was off her game, that it was a lot closer than the score indicated, that she’d beat me before the summer was over, that didn’t the net seem terribly low or something, and that I wasn’t used to playing with women or I wouldn’t hit the ball so hard all the time.

Little remains to be told. Anne is now the wife of a golfing banker. Wednesday night I met her at a party.

“Golf?” she echoed. “Oh, yes. That is, I don’t play it; I play at it. Tennis is really my game, but I haven’t had a racket in my hand in two years. We must have some of our games again. I nearly beat you last time, remember.”

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