T essie and Kirk Dawson were in their late 20’s when theynI moved into Grove Glen, and Fred Glover’s wife Eva sawnat once that they needed work. This was a tight community,nnot the kind two kids could walk into cold, so Eva took it asnher responsibility. She was, after all, the boss’s wife. Sheninvited herself and Fred over for the inspection tourn(“theater seats, how spunky”), after which she invited Kirknto offer them drinks.nThen Eva sat on the raw terrace outside the half-finishednhouse, crossing her sleek, waxed legs and giving advice in anwhiskey voice.n”Children. If you want to be invited, you’ll have tonentertain. When we were getting started Fred and I used tongive huge bashes four times a year.” She looked over at Fred,nwho was busy numbering the available kinds of groundncover for Kirk. “Didn’t we, Fred?”nFred did not so much answer as hum, a little buzz thatnmight have been a tribute to the waning summer, their longnlives together, the shift of light that warned of approachingnfall. “Most people around here go in for organic gardening,”nhe went on telling Kirk. “Garlic instead of pesticides. Bagsnof human hair.”n”You’d look so much prettier with contact lenses,” Evantold Jessie. “You don’t have to go around looking like anschoolteacher.” In the next breath she cautioned: “Nevernoutdress your guests.”n”But it’s the first time I’ve been able to afford decentnclothes.”n”Sweetie, you’re already one up on us. You’re young.”nJessie saw that the tan, the elegant linen shorts, the silknKit Reed’s most recent novel is Gatholic Gids. She teachesnfiction writing at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.nPresidents’ HillnA Short Storynby Kit Reednshirt were carefully put together to distract from the lines innEva’s face, beginning rings around her neck. “I’m sorry.”nEva said to Fred, “Aren’t they adorable?”nJessie murmui’ed, “Lord!”nBut Fred was showing Kirk how to drown slugs in dishesnof beer.n”It’s not your fault you’re young,” Eva said, putting onnmaturity like a badge; she seemed so seasoned] “These daysnI shudder every time I see the first red leaf” V’nFred smiled indulgentiy. “Eva, I think these kids have hadnenough of us for now.”n”Oh no,” Kirk said in haste.nBut Jessie was protesting. “Kids!”n”Shh,” Eva said in a there-there tone. “Shh.”nShe couldn’t help it if she and Kirk were the youngestncouple here. He looked like a stripling next to the othersnwith their grave expressions and their substantial adultnsilhouettes. Their solidity made Kirk seem slight andnunsteady as a setter puppy, who could demolish smallnobjects with a single wag of the tail. All this, Fred explained,nwas the result of conscious effort: “Who wants to donbusiness with a young guy?” The women had a sheen Jessienenvied; they were so far ahead that it gave her the feeling shenwas running along behind, calling after them: Wait up!nTwo months ago Kirk and Jessie were sitting around onnmattresses in student apartments; now they were here. Jessienput on stockings and high heels to teach; Kirk moved intondark suits and sober ties. Golliding in front of the hall mirror,nthey had to laugh. They even had a mortgage now. Thenrealtor had halted them in the middle of the newly soddednfront lawn to point out the potential for upgrading. In timenthey would leave their cookie-cutter split level for one of thenarchitects’ houses perched on Presidents’ Hill.nnnOCTOBER 1990/25n