Fall 2007 • Vol. XXIX No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2007 |

Absolute Zero

Every morning before school, Connor ran four miles in the desert with the Marines. They did push-ups and bear crawls on the lawn in front of the recruiting center and shouted Hua! at the top of their lungs. He'd shaved his head, his scalp as smooth as his mother's, only she was going in one direction and he … well, he didn't know where he was going. Since he was only seventeen, a year younger than most of his graduating high-school classmates because he'd skipped eighth grade, he'd have to have his mother's consent to join up. So far she'd been lucid enough when it came to this particular matter to shake her head no and vigorously refuse. "Over my dead body," she said, not without irony. "I will stay alive as long as it takes to see that you don't throw away your life." She wanted him to go to college at Arizona State and live with his Aunt Lyla and Uncle Sebert in Scottsdale. His sister, meanwhile, pregnant and single, would inherit the house until Connor turned twenty-eight,

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