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Midge saw a large bird fly over the surface of the lake, several yards behind Marcellus. It rose as it reached the forested shore, flapping mightily, and again, the third lifting it above the top of the trees, in the direction of the sun, sitting below the horizon yet casting its light into the cloudless sky.

She had to know. “So why did you come here?”

Marcellus grimaced, as if the continued effort of paddling the canoe came at great expense to his shoulders. “My mother always told me — ” he switched his paddle from his left side to his right, water dripping across the bottom of the canoe as his hands manipulated the wooden instrument like a drum major — “that whenever I was about to make a big decision, something that would change my life — spend some time alone with your thoughts, she’d tell me, go someplace quiet, away from the city.”

Midge realized she hadn’t paddled in several minutes. “Grad school?” She remembered Marcellus talking about applying.

The tall, handsome man shook his head, his glimmering face expressionless. “Didn’t get accepted.” He lay the paddle across his lap, looked at a spot above and beyond Midge’s head. “And when I realized how relieved I felt when I read the rejection letter, I knew that wasn’t the path I needed to take.”

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