"I am your wife, Jim. Suppose you came back from the dentist wearing dentures. You'd have to take them out sometimes. I'd have to see your bare gums. Or suppose it was me. If I lost a part that was visible would you want me to go around in a bedsheet?"
"Possibly. I'm not sure, Trina."
"We share things."
"I don't mind sharing things as long as they're not my terrible things. You despise ugly. You won't cut into a lobster."
"You're not a lobster, Jim. What happened to your sense of humor? The worst that could happen is that we have a good laugh."
Trina snaps the sweatband that has covered my forehead since they sent me home from the hospital. She climbs on top of me and presses her sex against my belly. I chuckle a clucking sound.
"Is my Apache laying an egg?"
"Your Apache just remembered an old phobia. You know those steel brushes they use to clean the streets? I dreamt about them all through my childhood. I thought they were moustaches of damned souls come to brush me to death. I was dreaming too high. I never realized they were sex dreams until now."
"That's very flattering." She flattens out. Her fingers massage my temples.
"Love, it is so good to be home. Everything seems incandescent. Trivia blazes. When I was inside you it felt like my missile fired multiple warheads."
"Your missile? Jesus. Maybe there was brain damage."
"I was looking for the right image. Blunt instrument didn't do it. Did you ever see pictures of an undersea volcano? Flame in the water? Fish turn orange. Seaweed turns purple. Shells are opalescent. Bubbles are pearls. That's what I felt like when I came." I roll Trina over. "I'm going down there for another look. I wish I had a camera."
"We just finished doing that."
"I know. Let's not talk for a while. Let me do incredible things to you. Feel free to show gratitude."
"Stop it, darling. You have got to take off that stupid headband." Trina does a flip and leaves me kissing a damp sheet. I sit up.
"You know I actually look forward to getting back to the office? When did you ever hear me say that? I can't explain it but I am living in a land with nothing but horizons."
"You're evading the inevitable." Trina is crying. Tears drip down her cheeks and curve to her lips. She licks at them. I taste her salt.
"Alright. You win. But please, please be totally honest about your feelings. We have to live with this."
"I'll be honest. The truth is, I don't expect to feel much of anything. We're not talking grotesque or terminal. We're talking minor inconvenience."
"We're talking cosmic joke. Go ahead, do it."
I close my eyes. Trina pats my face. I open. She smiles a sunrise. I grin back. She lifts away my headband with two fingers. I watch her face. Absolutely no sign of revulsion. Her face is blank. Now I feel tears on my face. I reach out to embrace my wife.
"No, thanks, I'm not hungry. But it looks delicious," she says.
Trina goes pale, the color of the eggshell wall. She trembles. A puff of air escapes from her bottom like a soul leaving a recent corpse.
"No thanks, I'm not hungry? But it looks delicious? Is that compassion?"
"James, forgive me." She is twitching. Her eyebrows arch into knots. I see a pulse leap in her neck. Her voice is changed to splintering glass. "It was spontaneous. What did you expect? I scan and react like a normal person. A reflex. Is it my fault you're not yourself?"
"How can I not be myself?"
"I am trying to tell you my reaction was perfectly innocent. You can't punish me for that. Stop glaring. I love you. I'm here for you. In time I'll adjust. We'll send the kids to a nice boarding school. They'll come to understand. And I didn't lie to you. It does look delicious even if I am not a fan of pea soup. When did I last order pea soup? I can't tell you. I love cream of asparagus or broccoli, even shrimp bisque. You know that. You must know that."
"Trina, please, calm down. Here, let me put the band back on. I know it isn't easy for you. Do you want a pill? Trina, there's a glaze over you. You'll make yourself sick."
p r e v i o u s