Elder Statesman

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Brie stands beside her parents on the sidelines of Alaska's lacrosse game, the heels of her black leather boots sinking into the turf. Alaska lopes past and turns, catching the ball in a backwards leap, the toe of her cleat carving a divot that sends the scent of grass and earth rising up to those who stand stationary as the girl charges forward for the goal. She maneuvers around her opponents in balletic lunges and twirls, the tail of her long hair in whiplash as she rushes the goal, gives a shout, fakes left, left again, dives right, hurling the ball into the net as the goalie wails and hits the dirt. Alaska flees the horde of teammates approaching for a hand slap and charges back to center, scanning the field as her opponents take position. "Move down!" she shouts, charging the girl with the ball—stick check, takeaway, turnabout—and she sends the ball sailing back upfield to her teammate and hustles after it, calling the next play as she goes.

It is possible to feel proud and envious and competitive all at the same time. There is something in Alaska's motion that stirs jealousy in Brie. Not her physical swiftness, though this is altogether covetous, but it's the girl's total lack of introspection out there, her absolute focus on the task at hand, that turns up the dial on Brie's own self-consciousness. Here she stands, stabbing the field with her heels in a dress that may as well be a banner that says: I misunderstand life.

Brie eyes her parents, wondering if they're embarrassed by the person standing next to them in fuck-me boots and the Diane von Furstenburg wrap dress that, for the record, is gorgeous and everyone at work was raving over. It's a problem of context. No, it's the cheetah print. She goes back and forth on animal patterns. Got to be careful, because this textile is certainly cougar territory, but by all accounts Brie wears it well. Wait, she's not a cougar, is she? What's the minimum age of cougardom? Or maybe it's more of an attitude, or the simple act of prowling for younger men.

Oh God.

Alaska scores another goal to win the game and their father, Chip, howls like a coyote until Trish berates him to silence. Apparently it's inappropriate for parents to express emotion on the playing field these days.

Someone is jogging over to them. He's got the confident strut of a kid and the broad muscled shoulders of an athlete. "Hawk," Chip says, shaking his hand, but the kid's eyes are fixed on Brie.

"She's doing good," Chip says.

"Real good," Hawk says, taking Brie in like she's some painting in a museum.

Chip says, "Duke scout here?"

Hawk turns his attention to Chip. "No, change of plans. I told Alaska she should come scrimmage with the women's team at UCLA this Saturday. The scout's good friends with the coach and she'll be there. I think we should throw her in with the big girls. She just outranks everybody here, and it wouldn't give her the platform to showcase everything's she's got. So I'll set it up. I'll let you know." His eyes travel back to Brie.

"This is my other daughter, Brie," Chip says. "Brie, this is Hawk, Alaska's coach. He plays for UCLA."

Hawk rolls his gum around his mouth with his tongue. "Sister?"

Brie smirks. "Hawk?"

"Brian," he says, extending a hand. He takes hers and shakes it and grazes the palm of her hand with this thumb.

"Hello Brian," she says, warmly amused. "UCLA, huh? I live over there."

On the field, the teams are passing each other in lines. Good game. Good game. Good game.

Hawk looks down at Brie's bag. "Whoa, is that a Ladie Tomboi print on your purse?"

Brie tilts her head. "Why yes, I'm impressed."

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