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Repeating Mistakes
by Robert Slentz-Kesler

Dean suspected that if he could ever get his drinking under control, he'd stop breaking the fifth metatarsal on his right foot every summer. Every damn summer, consistently. The annual fracture was almost as predictable as Cassandra’s infidelity – each autumn, he’d wonder which of her co-workers would soon be the beneficiary of her sexual acrobatics in room 245 of the Back Bay Hilton in Boston (the private investigator had informed him that she always used room 245).

And so each year the pattern repeated itself: near the end of the season at their summer house on Great East Lake in New Hampshire, Dean would toss back a few too many goblets of Westmalle Trappist ale and then roll his ankle on the second step of the dock, a step the inspector had warned them was one inch shorter than the others. Then after the icing and wrapping of his foot, and after Cassandra had loaded their gear into the car and loaded Dean into the front seat with his leg elevated, she would lecture him during the entire drive back into the city about bad habits and repeating mistakes and how you can’t just keep behaving the same way like that and expect anything different to come of it.

But one of these mistakes, Dean finally realized, was his annual tradition of enduring the car lectures and nodding his head and promising to do better next time, so in this moment he chose to heed her advice and break the pattern.

“You mean like the bad habit of always using room 245?” said Dean. “Like that? Is that a repeating mistake?”

Cassandra jerked her head to the right and glared at him as the car swerved and scraped against the guardrail.

“Well, is it?” yelled Dean above the squeal of metal on metal. “Ha ha! Here, let me help you with that,” he said, trying to grab the steering wheel.

“Letgo letgo letgo, Jesus!” said Cassandra. She pushed him away and wrestled the car back onto the highway.

Dean started giggling. “Repeating mistakes – that’s good.”

“Okay okay,” said Cassandra. “Jesus.”

“Ha Ha!”



Cassandra stared straight ahead at the road, her tight jaw slowly slackening into a faint grin.