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almost blew her cover

“O.K., all right. . . But that was in the nice warm Aegean. Why the f**k did they send me here? I never went through a real winter before and now I’ve had three months of the Arctic . . . You’re from North Dakota, you have no idea. Sometimes I want to cry . . . I was born to feel the hot sun on my shoulders, warm sand between my toes. Now I can’t feel my toes at all!”

“Don’t look down. Seeing snow on your toes reminds you of the cold . . . By the way, very good job on your toenails.”

“I did what I could to get ‘dressed’. I figured white goes with what they’re always plunged into anyway. Brrrr!!”

“Don’t do that! Don’t rub your arms! You’re supposed to be comfortable in the cold. A radical nudist.”

“A radical numb - ist is m - more like it. I can’t feel my feet, or my hands. Or my tits. Look at my nipples, they’re like little rocks. They might fall off and I won’t notice. Are you s - sure I can’t run? It’s six more whole b - blocks!”

“No, no, not until we turn off this main drag. In fact, we’re walking too fast as it is.”

“Don’t slow down! You’re slowing down! You b - bastard! I hope you have to do this someday! I hope your dick and your b - balls fall off!”

“Do I detect sexual harassment here?”

“Oh f**k you! . . . Remember, I outrank you . . . Ensign.”

“Yes you do . . . Lieutenant Junior Grade.”

“They should promote me to Commander, after this.”

“Admit it, if it wasn’t for me watching you, you would have blown your cover here long ago. You almost did when Lindstrom asked you to model for him.”

“I d- did say ‘yes’.”

“Yes but I saw your jaw clench. You hesitated.”

“Of course. The last thing I want to do is show myself off even more. I’m a modest girl. On South B - beach I always wore a one-piece. Anyway I d - don’t think Lindstrom n - noticed. I went back to sipping my martini.”

“Another thing, you shouldn’t drink.”

“It keeps m - me warm when I g - go out.”

“Yes, but two martinis? . . . If you’re going to walk naked through a Norwegian winter you can’t impede your circulation . . . Anyway you shouldn’t have been surprised when he asked you to pose. I’m an American artist and they assume you, the nudist, are my model.”

“Some artist. I still don’t believe you got that Community College degree.”

“Hey, that ‘midnight sun’ charcoal I did with you lying in the snow, that went over well.”

“I’m s - still not imp - pressed. . . You took your d - damn t - time having me p - pose. . . my b - butt got numb . . . and with half the t - town watching . . . all bundled up with their thermals on . . . God, I’m c - cold! P - please walk faster!”

“I told you . . . don’t rub your arms! Don’t hug yourself! You’re supposed to be welcoming the snow on your bare skin!”

“Well . . . I’m not.”

“Don’t talk so soft. What?”

“I s - said . . . I’m not. F**k those Tibetan yoga techinques! They don’t help at all!”

“You don’t seem too dedicated to them.”

“I’d rather scoot inside, and get warm. M - miserable as our s - stupid wood stove is. Why can’t we g - get it fixed! It’s either f - freeze on that stupid bare mattress, with just a stupid slipcover, or get t - too close and b - b - burn my toes!”

“I told you, it’s not in our budget . . . And we can’t put in an application for state aid, generous as it is. We can’t get enmeshed in the grid.”

“Th - thank God for that hot t - tub.”

“It’s more like a cold tub. You always put it on the coldest setting.”

“Well it f - feels warm to me. I have t - to c - crank it up in stages. Otherwise it’s s - scalding even on the c - coldest setting. But I can’t stay in 24/7 -- Hey! Don’t stop and adjust your boots! Right n - next to my f - freezing b - bare feet that are t - turning b - blue! You j - jerk! Um -- gott kveld! Gott kveld! . . Gott kveld!”

“Extend your hand out more when you wave. Like it’s a warm night and you don’t feel the -- ”

“F**k you!!! F - f - f**k you! I h - hope you r - roast in Hell! . . . Actually I w - wouldn’t m - mind that myself right now . . . Only t - two more blocks t - till we turn! C - can I run? P - p - please??”

“I can’t give you orders. You know you can’t run until we get onto our street and out of sight.”

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So many questions! Would love to see this short story expanded upon.

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