By Alexis Rhone Fancher
The wife could think again, only in shorter sentences. Not that there was much to say. She’d made it past the episode, and her husband was grateful. She knew the words on the tip of his lips before he did. For a while, just after, it was silence all the time. He would glance at her or she at him; no words necessary. A blink, a nod. A kind of shorthand, she thought. Or treason, she heard him think. No one spoke. No one listened. Their new normal.
“You watch too much Forensic Files,” he told his wife. “The Killer You Know.” “Murderous Neighbors.” Yada yada yada. Suspicion invaded her thinking. And she, suffering from cabin fever, her fragile mind so easily swayed. He woke at midnight to see her at their bedroom window, watching their neighbor’s Toyota Hatchback pull into his driveway. The neighbor let it idle for a good ten minutes before he turned off the engine, cut the lights. But still, he sat there, watching the neighbor’s wife’s shadow against the white blind. “I don’t blame him,” the husband thought. He, too, liked the way she moved.
“I’ve always wondered how it will end for me,” the wife admitted. Now she thought she knew. He would fight for her, while she would slide into death as she had into most things. She’d learned the futility of effort-ing. She dreamt of heaven, reunited with dead beloveds—her son, her best friend. Generations of family. How stupid! she thought. Living with an atheist for twenty years had dissuaded her belief in an afterlife. She’d tried, but her son’s death at twenty-six knocked all the God right out of her.
Now when the husband and wife made love they kept their eyes wide, focused on each other. “If I knew it was the last time,” her son’s lover had shared. “I would have paid more attention.” Haunted by her words, the wife paid attention. Made each time feel as if it were the last. The weight of his body, the soap scent of his skin. His hard cock a pleasure between her thighs. How well she slept after orgasm, the husband thought. La petit mort. The little death. “I want to die first,” the wife often said to him. Now it looked like she would.
Copyright Fancher 2022