Birds of a Lesser Paradise

I fell for Smith the day my father hit his first hole in one on his homemade golf course. Dad had spent years shaping the earth in our backyard until he had two holes that were something more than an extravagant minigolf spread and less than a Jack Nicklaus pro layout.

Mae! my father yelled, hoisting his nine iron into the air. I did it!

He was a couple hundred yards away—we had a chunk of land outside town for our bird-watching business, Pocosin Birds—and because I didn’t think my voice would carry, I jumped up and down a few times and clapped my hands, trying to appear thrilled. But I was self-conscious with Smith standing behind me, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his army-green cargo pants, an almost scowl on his almost beautiful face.

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