“Date Night” by Erin Almond

Mary

             This morning, when I asked George if we could have a date night he shrugged and poured coffee into his thermos and told me he still hadn’t finished painting the trim at the Donaldson’s. Now I’m standing in front of the mirror, naked. Gabriel, my six-week-old, lies gurgling in his moses basket behind me on the bed. My two-year-old, Liza, is miraculously playing by herself in the other room. My husband is off attending to some other woman’s broken floorboards and chipped paint.

            My body has changed – how could I expect otherwise, after what it’s been through? My belly is soft and    flabby and about as big as it was at seven months’ pregnant. My thighs are round and dimpled. There are purple      stretch marks on the sides of my waist, like parentheses. A faded brown line runs down the center of my belly. My upper arms sway when I raise them overhead.

            Then there are my breasts. They went from being a small B to a double D. Said breasts are uneven (Gabriel prefers the left), with bright blue veins and aureoles as large as half dollars. Sometimes when I step from the shower – when I actually have time to shower – they leak milk. It drops on the floor in tiny puddles, mixing with the shower water, the unrinsed shampoo, the dirt that gets relentlessly tracked in, although I plead with everyone to please leave their shoes on the porch.

            A soft hammock of flesh hangs beneath my jaw. It’s not quite a double, but it’s more chin than I want. A face isn’t something you can hide under a large sweater. People make judgments based on it, before they have time to notice how your pants fit or what kind of shoes you wear. What does my face say? Add the shadows beneath my eyes to that chin, and it says, I am a housewife. I am tired. I clean dirt and milk from the bathroom floor. 

            I know that a certain kind of woman would look at this body and take stock in a different way. A certain kind
of woman – I’ve read about them in Mothering magazine – would praise her body for creating life not once, but twice, and for sustaining it with nothing more than these leaking breasts.

            But I’m that other kind of woman, the kind who spent her twenties running half-marathons and fasting. The kind who could be depressed for an entire day if the scale gave her the wrong number, and who could become just as euphoric by squeezing into an old pair of jeans. The kind of woman who knew what she was doing when she used her body to woo and win her husband.

            Now I’m certain George is sleeping with another woman. Or, if he’s not yet – and let’s face it, the handyman
having an affair with a lonely, attractive housewife is just the kind of cliché my life doesn’t need – he soon will be.
It’s probably Mrs. Donaldson herself, I mean, why not? Apparently they have a big old house that requires many repairs. Apparently he has to go there at least once a week. Apparently we haven’t had sex in months.

            Liza calls from the other room, “Mama, I made a big mess!” just before I hear the crash of books and magazines falling from the coffee table onto the hardwood floor. And now Gabriel is crying because he’s hungry, that insatiable little body always wants to be attached to mine, and because I’m his mama, and a good mama in       spite of my faults, I put him on the boob and he sighs and coos and his eyes roll back into his head.

            “Hold on, baby,” I call to my daughter, clutching my son. “Mama will be there in a minute.”

 

George

            Mrs. O’Connell is thankfully not home – I can tell because the Mercedes station wagon isn’t in the driveway – when I arrive to finish fixing the hole in the wall. This means I have time to enjoy a cigarette – Mary doesn’t let me smoke in the truck anymore, not now that Liza sometimes rides in it – before I get to work. Heck, I might even have time to jerk off in the bathroom, that little blue potpourri-scented room that has somehow, in the last two months, become the erotic center of my universe.

            When I get inside, I nearly trip over the plastic blocks scattered on the floor. I don’t know at what point the entire world became covered with brightly colored obstacles, but I know it’s happened within the last four years, since getting married and having kids myself. I kick them aside with my steel-toed boot, and this small act of violence makes me feel better than I know it should.

            I skip the cigarette and head directly for the little blue bathroom.

            I take a leak first, glad that Mrs. O’Connell and her twin boys aren’t around to hear the powerful surge. Damn. I guess I had a lot of coffee. Done with business, I shake and continue to hold myself. Usually I can rub one out in under a minute, but today I feel weirdly self-conscious. I close my eyes and try to imagine that woman from the soap commercials, the one who caresses her milky skin and talks about how soft and residue-free it is, but all I can see is Mary’s face, the way she looked at me when I told her I’d be home late tonight.

            Mary.

            We were really hot for each other once. Couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves. I was half-married already when we met (Sara and I had lived together for six years, but were constantly on the outs) and she was the pretty new bartender, and what can I say but we had a blazing chemistry. I knew we’d get married the first the time I kissed her, the first time I felt her little tongue lick me up and down. She was exciting in a way Sara never was. Her body was tight as a fiddle. She couldn’t get enough of me inside her and would orgasm like five or six times to my one, no lie.

            We got it back after the first baby – even that took a few months before things felt normal again – but this time feels different. Maybe it’s cause the baby’s a boy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little fucker, with his crooked nose just like mine, and his little clenched baby hands always waving in the air like he wants to punch the world. But sometimes when Mary looks at him, I see this big, quiet love in her eyes, the kind of love that we never had with our frantic, sexy ways, and it frightens me. Like she’s moved on to something deeper and more lasting, and what was I ever but a guy with a toolbelt and a big dick, anyway?

            Even thinking about how it used to be between us – even thinking that that thing is gone now, and I’m not sure how we’re going to get it back – has gotten me hard. I get myself a palmful of that jasmine scented lotion Mrs. O’Connell keeps on the back of the toilet, and keep thinking about Mary. That time we did it when she was all sweaty after going for a run. “I stink,” she’d said, wrinkling her freckled nose and trying to push me away. But I liked the skunky smell of her, the way her forehead glistened in the late afternoon light. I made her ride on top of me, even though I knew she preferred the bottom. She shifted her hips back and forth and I looked up at the long pale length of her, the shadows of her ribs, her bellybutton with its tiny gold ring, and tried not to come until she’d had at least two or three.

            Oh, and now there I go. God-damn. The release shoots me right out of myself, and I forget the blue bathroom, forget the long, lonely married nights, and remember only that instant, that moment of making love, when Mary and I could still leave this planet together, locked at the hips, shooting stars in space.

            I flush just as I hear the Mercedes pulling into the driveway. I shift my toolbelt back over my hips and wash my hands. I’m upstairs working on the hole before Mrs. O’Connell gets her boys out of their carseats.

            “George, you upstairs?” she calls.

            I put down my sander and walk to the landing. “I should be able to finish this today,” I say. “I’ll get the primer on, then all your husband has to do is paint over it.”

            “Paint! Paint!” One of the twins yells. “I have to pee!” The other one says. “Crackers!” says the first. “Yeah, crackers!” the other one joins in.

            “Just a minute,” Mrs. O’Connell says, and I recognize that brand of tired in her voice. That’s Mary in the morning, Mary in the afternoon, Mary nursing the baby before bed.

            “Crackers!” both boys are yelling now.

            I know I should head downstairs so Mrs. O. can talk to me. Maybe I could bring something shiny – a hammer? Some screws? – to distract the boys with. But I remain locked on the landing, and when Mrs. O’Connell finally gives up on having an adult conversation with her handyman, when she finally goes into the kitchen to get the boys their snack, I go back to sanding the wall, my strokes sure and smooth, requiring nothing but a steady hand.

 

Mary

            It’s impossible to make it to a playdate on time now that I’ve got an infant in addition to a toddler. First I have to nurse Gabriel on one side, change his diaper – this alone can take fifteen minutes if I open it at the wrong time – and then nurse him on the other. If I don’t put him over my shoulder and burp him he starts shrieking from what I can only imagine are agonizing gas pains. In the meantime, Liza does her best to pull as much of my attention as she can her way.

            This morning she takes off all her clothes – a new skill that makes me wish she were potty trained already. “Mama, I’m naked!” she yells, running into the bedroom. She’s carrying pages ripped from one of the magazines she flung off the coffee table. “Mama I’m naked and I’m running!”

            “I see that,” I say, keeping my voice even. I’ve learned that getting upset only makes things worse.

            “Mama, mama, mama!” She’s exuberant, gleeful. “Mama’s nursing!”

             “Mama’s almost done,” I say. “And then we’re going to get you dressed, and then we’re going to the playdate. Doesn’t that sound exciting?”

            “No!” She throws the magazine pages to the floor. “No playdate!”

            “There’ll be toys,” I say. “And snacks.”

            “Mama!” she shouts, and once more she’s on the move. “I’m running!”

            This makes me smile. I remember my old body, light and strong. I was a bartender in my former life, which meant I had mornings to myself. I ran six days a week. I knew all the best hills, the corners where the walk signs lit up seconds after pushing the button. It didn’t matter what I’d done the night before – it was easy to sneak a nip or two at Shea’s – I could sweat it all out: the meager tips, the stolen whiskey, the secret gropes from my manager, Pat. I’d arrive home drenched and clean, a new person.

            God, I miss exercising. I’m lucky if I sneak in a walk now, with both kids in the double stroller. Liza won’t sit for longer than 30 minutes, and raises such a fuss it wakes the baby. I’ve thought about joining a gym with childcare, but I’ve always hated treadmills. All that running and getting nowhere hurts my head.

            Gabriel removes himself from the nipple, and gives me one of his bottomless stares. Newborns are so wise-looking, it’s scary. It makes me self-conscious in front of him sometimes, like he can read my thoughts. Like he knows what a shitty mother I sometimes am in the secret corners of my mind.

            “Hey, baby boy,” I whisper. “Are you ready to go play?”

            He makes a cooing sound and nudges his chin forward. One of his dimples appears, the prelude to a smile.

            “Give it to me,” I say. “Give mama that big boy smile.”

            The other dimple appears. I hold him under the armpits, pull his face into mine. “A smile! For me!” My enthusiasm is real.

            Gabriel smiles even wider, a genuine gummy grin.

            I smile back, amazed, pleased.

            His eyes open round and then he spits up with all the force of a tiny fire hose, warm half-digested milk showering my hair, my glasses, the inside of my open mouth.

            I lose it for half a second, “Oh, baby!” and Gabriel starts to cry.

            Liza comes running back into the room, cheeks flushed. “He’s crying!”

            “I know, honey,” I say, wiping my face with the back of my hand. I glance over at my daughter and see that she’s clutching one of my workout magazines, the one with a bikini model on the cover every month.

            “Mama, I made a big poop!” Liza says. “I made a big poop in the living room!”
“Of course you did,” I say. Is that a brownish-yellow smear I see on the magazine? I take a deep breath. Under no circumstances will I start to cry along with my infant – and my toddler, who is now clearly alarmed by her mother’s behavior. I give up, and we three sob together, the infant the loudest, in long, lusty gulps, Liza in little bewildered hiccups, and me in silence because I’m still, in spite of it all, trying to maintain the illusion of control.

 

 

George

            I’m still thinking about Mary when I get to Donaldson’s. I told her that I’d be working late because I had to finish the trim, but the truth is I’ll be done by early afternoon. Mary wants a date night tonight because she’s feeling lousy about herself, but I don’t want to have bad sex just to prove something. (You ever try to make love to someone who feels shitty about their body? Might as well fuck a pillow.)

            It’s not that I don’t sympathize with her. I was a fat kid, and I know what it’s like to feel self-conscious. (That’s when I started working out with my cousin Billy, and even now I’m glad my profession is physical enough to keep me in shape.) It’s just that so much of what turned me on about her when we first met was how unselfconscious she was. She wasn’t the prettiest girl at Shea’s, but she was the most aggressive. Always angling to get me behind the bar when I showed up to fix the broken chairs or flush out the clogged toilets. “Come pick out what you want, George,” she’d say, ostensibly a drink, but we both knew what she really meant. She was horny for me, and that made me horny too, but now she feels bad, and I feel bad too. She’s never accused me of doing this to her – making her body go soft – but she doesn’t need to.

            Larry Donaldson answers the door when I ring the bell, and gives me his wide-toothed grin. “The Donaldson’s” is actually just him. I’ve been lying from the start, making it seem like it’s a family, and it’s one of those habitual lies to Mary that I can’t even explain to myself. Why does it matter that Larry Donaldson is a forty-something bachelor academic, Professor of So-and-So at Harvard, instead of the head of a household that includes a wife and kids? I’m not sure, but I do appreciate that Larry keeps a bunch of beers in the fridge and always offers me one within minutes of my arrival.

            “Looks like you’re almost done with that,” he says, nodding at the front bay window. I’ve already scraped off most of the chipped paint on the trim, so all I need to do is sand it smooth and start getting the coats on. This is the last of a series of projects Larry – who admits to barely being able to change a lightbulb – hired me for last spring.

            “You gonna miss me, buddy?” I ask, accepting the cold bottle he hands me.

            Larry laughs. His hair sticks out in little tufts, and his hands shake. He’s probably been up all night grading papers. Or maybe he’s getting a little grad student pussy on the side. Who knows. I’m past imagining the “glamorous” bachelor life. I still remember all the bad dates and hangovers.

            He pops open his own beer. “Yeah, I am going to miss you, actually.” His voice is surprisingly earnest and it creeps me out for a minute before he continues. “Maybe you can come to one of my poker nights. I think you’d like the guys.”

            “Maybe,” I say, before taking a long pull. “It’s tough to get out now with the new baby.”

            “How’s that going for you?” Larry settles into one of the thrift store easy chairs scattered about his living room. Million dollar house, furnished courtesy of the Salvation Army. That’s university people for you – they want the high salary but don’t want to look like they make it.

            I debate whether or not to sit down too, but then decide to talk while I sand. I don’t think Larry would mind if I put it off, but his lonely vibe is a little too much for me today. His place is dark – the late afternoon clouds look like snow – and as cluttered as any of the houses with kids, only his is filled with stacks of papers and books, manila envelopes of various shapes and sizes and, weirdly, old shoes. There are always at least three pairs tossed around the room.

             “It’s tough,” I say. “It’s definitely more than twice as hard.”

            “Not getting a lot of sleep, eh?”

            “Mary’s nursing,” I say. “I don’t have to do bottles in the middle of the night, like I did with Liza.” Liza had problems “latching,” which always sounded to me like some kind of hardware problem, like her hinges weren’t fixed right or something. So instead of going on the boob all the time like Gabe, Liza used to drink pumped milk from bottles. That had the added benefit (or difficultly, depending on how you look at it) of allowing Mary and I to trade off on night feedings.

            “She must be exhausted,” Larry says, getting up. I can tell it’s at least a two beer day before he’s even halfway to the kitchen.

            “Yeah.” I stop myself, just barely, from getting all confessional – Larry’s got this knack for getting me to admit things, which makes me wonder if he isn’t maybe a professor of psychology. I could tell him how most of the time when I get home the house is a mess, no dinner made, Mary near tears about how Liza didn’t nap or Gabe won’t stop fussing, and could I please just take Liza outside for a walk or get Gabe to burp, and, look, I know how hard it is to juggle two kids – I take them on Saturdays so Mary can go to her post natal yoga class – but there was a time when I walked through the door and Mary lit up like she was happy to see me, just for being me, not because I was the relieving shift. My job is physical too, comes with its share of aches and pains. Mary used to give me the best massages – I told her once she should give up tending bar and go to massage school, and she was even considering it before she got pregnant.

            Thinking about Mary’s massages makes me realize I miss being touched. And as soon as I realize this, I feel bad for blowing off date night. Maybe I should surprise her by coming home early. Maybe we can give it a try. Of course, this could just be the beer talking. Even one and I’m feeling all warm and relaxed, like shit might work out after all. I’m a secret lightweight, which is why I only drink when someone insists, and Larry’s already putting the second one in my hand, telling me there’s no rush on the trim, why don’t I take a load off, it’s Friday afternoon, and his loneliness is like a giant hand clutching at me, and for the first time I feel sorry for him, for his big house with all that clutter but no soul.

            “I couldn’t do it,” Larry says, settling back into his chair. “Wife and kids, no way. I’m too addicted to falling in love. The rush.”

            I don’t know what to say to that, so I just keep sanding.

            “I don’t think any of my married colleagues are that happy. Maybe you are, George, you seem like a pretty happy guy, but most of the guys I know with a wife and kids are trying to escape them most of the time.”

            I shrug.

            “I mean, tell me if I’m crossing the line here, George, and I’ll shut up. But don’t you miss that feeling of making love for the first time? When you get to see that new naked body, and you’re nervous and maybe a little scared, but more turned on than you’ve ever been in your life? How can you go for the rest of your life without that feeling?”

            I put down the sander and take a long pull. After burping softly I say, “I love my wife and kids.”

            “Of course you love them.” Larry leans forward in his chair like he’s looking forward to a good debate. Moments like these I can picture him in the classroom, sitting on the edge of his desk, sparring with those upshot Ivy Leaguers. “But are you excited by them? Don’t you miss being excited?”

            I might have offered that explanation for how down I’ve been lately – why I didn’t instantly agree to date night – myself, but now that Larry’s raised it, I need to take the other side. I like the guy, but I can’t help thinking of him as a smug academic. The kind of guy who buys shitty furniture and cheap beer and brags to his friends about having interesting conversations with his handyman, because that’s somehow his idea of keeping it real.

            I put down the sander. “There’s more important things in life than being excited all the time,” I say, surprised at how angry I sound. “There’s things like loyalty, like sticking through the hard times, like being a good parent to your kids so they can grow up and have a better life than you, maybe even attend that fancy university across town that wouldn’t even let you fix its toilets.”

            Larry tucks his lips in and scratches his goatee. “Have I said something to piss you off, George?”

            I bend to get that can of primer. “No,” I say, making sure my voice is congenial again. “I’m just saying.”

            “I hear you,” Larry says, getting up from his chair. “I just wish there was a way to have it all, you know? Monogamous companionship and excitement. But then, that’s always been the struggle for civilized man, hasn’t it?” His eyes shift to the side of the room taken up with a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase. Maybe you can learn about women from books and maybe you can’t – I wouldn’t know. I went to college too, but I only read for fun now, not to discover the mysteries of the universe. I’m a work-with-my-hands kind of guy, and I realize now that that’s exactly what I need to do with Mary. Work with my hands. Try to find that thing, find it with my hands.

 

Mary

            Mid-afternoon and I’ve put Liza down for a nap, but I can still hear her bouncing around in her crib. I’ve got Gabe in the carrier, and I’m trying to straighten up, but he fusses every time I lean forward to pick a magazine up off the floor. There are dishes in the sink, and the bed hasn’t been made and I haven’t even thought about what to do for dinner. And then there’s the laundry, always the laundry, diapers and onesies and George’s work clothes, although I’m lucky if I make it out of my pajamas most days, which helps.

            I’m scraping play-dough off the kitchen table when it suddenly occurs to me that the house is quiet, has been for some time. Liza must have finally bounced herself to sleep. Gabe is curled against me, breathing deep and warm. I carefully undo the carrier and lift him into his basket. He continues sleeping, his eyelids not even fluttering, the way they do sometimes when he dreams.

            My chance for a shower. If I don’t take it, no telling when I’ll get another one.

            The water is warm and just the right pressure. My shoulders ache, and my lower back twinges when I reach for the soap. Should I shave my legs? I’m pretty sure date night isn’t going to happen, but what the hell. It’s been about a week.

            I wash and condition my hair, squirt cream over my shins and grab my razor. I want to feel pretty again, while at the same time I wish that I didn’t care. Not every woman gets to stay home. George is the kind of guy who prides himself on supporting his family, on not having his kids “raised” by daycare or a nanny, and he hustles to make it possible for us to survive on one income.

            But that also means he’s out there with the Mrs. Donaldsons of the world. I’ve got a clear mental picture of her. She’s a real blond with a trim figure in spite of her three kids. She has help at home – a housekeeper/nanny maybe – not so she can work (although she could easily find employment if she wanted) but so she can have a little sanity. She shops and gets her nails done, and makes sure to get to the gym four days a week. She reads Updike and Oates, and plans to go to graduate school when her kids are older. She subscribes to Gourmet magazine and keeps things like shallots and sesame oil stocked in her well-lit, stainless steel applianced kitchen.

            Mr. Donaldson has a high-paying job, but the downside is he has to travel a lot. Sometimes for weeks at a time, which is how Mrs. Donaldson justifies having that full-time housekeeper/nanny. (Every mother feels guilty for every second her child is looked after by someone else, I don’t care how wealthy or educated you are.) And when Mrs. Donaldson met my George she was intrigued. She was aware of the cliché, of course. But that’s how she let her guard down, assuming she was much too sophisticated for such nonsense. An affair with the handyman, of all things.

            But then they got to talking, and she realized he’s a smart guy, could have finished his degree if he’d wanted. He’s good with numbers, good with his hands. He loves kids, and always finds time to horse around with Mrs. Donaldson’s boys. Sometimes he takes them outside, tosses around a ball. These are kids who miss their dad. George would sense that immediately, and would roughhouse with them the way he does with his nephews, the way he will with Gabe someday.

            Mrs. Donaldson starts baking him little treats. Not your typical chocolate chip cookies, or banana-nut muffins, but fancy things like scones and homemade truffles. Okay, maybe that last is a little much. Maybe she doesn’t spend time carefully stirring melted chocolate after heating it to just the right temperature. But then again, maybe she does. She’s obviously a special lady, this Mrs. Donaldson.

            I’ve just finished shaving my legs, when I hear Gabe crying over the sound of the water. He’s safe in his basket, I tell myself. But then, maybe 60 seconds later, when his cries have reached that frantic state where his chin quivers and his whole body shakes, I can’t stop myself. I fling back the shower curtain, forgetting to turn off the water, so I’m now adding to that puddly mess on the bathroom floor, and run, naked and dripping, to the bedroom.

            Gabriel’s face is red with exertion, and he’s crying so hard that he’s not making a sound. His little body looks like it’s going to implode: fists clenched, legs a straight hard line from his hips. I stop in my tracks, consider him for half a second. Here is a man who needs me, who needs me life-and-death, and the responsibility of this suddenly seems awesome, overwhelming. What if I just walked away? What if I grabbed my coat from its hook by the front door and went outside, into the snow that I can see out the bedroom window is just beginning to fall? What then?

            There have been mothers who do that. Mothers who walk away. Just like there have been mothers who have drowned their babies in the bathtub. I’ve always found those acts horrific – still do – but I also feel like I can sort of understand them now. Why someone would do something so terrible and sad. The self gets erased, and the self fights back. The self feels powerless, and the self takes it out on the one being under its power.

            I pick Gabe up, and his little body shudders out a few more cries before he nudges his face into my breast. Oh, little man, I think. How can I love you the way you need to be loved and keep myself from going mad?

 

George

            Those first gentle flakes I watched drifting down outside Larry’s bay window have turned into an angry torrent. My truck slides through an intersection on Mass Ave. It’s four o’clock – the kids have all been picked up from school and the evening rush hasn’t started yet. Now would be a good time to head home. Now would be a good time to surprise Mary, to tell her I miss that thing between us, that I changed my mind and I want to get it back, starting tonight.

            Larry Donaldson’s words echo in my mind: don’t you miss being excited? Don’t you miss making love for the first time when your bodies are still new? The more I think about it, the madder I get. Who the hell does Donaldson think he is, anyway? He’s just a miserable old bachelor, probably angling to sleep with most of his friends’ wives.

            I can hear the wailing already when I pull in the driveway. Man, Gabe’s really going at it. And Liza’s jumping in her crib, calling, “Mama I want to come out! Mama I’m awake!” I steel myself for the chaos. I want to keep the desire that’s been mounting ever since I left Donaldson’s from evaporating, but I know that once I get inside I’m Daddy and she’s Mommy and both of us are in the kind of shit-storm that only an infant and a toddler can create.

            Gabe stops crying just as I open the front door. I clomp inside – Mary’s always going at me about leaving my work boots on the porch – but I can’t lose momentum now. I go into Liza’s room first, lift her from her crib.

            “Daddy!” She flings her arms around my neck, holding me tight, while simultaneously kicking me with all her might.

            “Did you miss me?” I kiss her in the crease between her chin and her neck, the special tickle spot she loves.

            She squeals and kicks so hard I have to put her down. “Daddy’s home!” she shouts, running towards mine and Mary’s bedroom.

            I follow, and stop in the doorway.

            Mary is sitting on the bed, wet and naked, Gabriel in her arms. His head’s tipped back, a drop of watery-white milk shining on his chin. His skin is pink, his little baby hands clutching at Mary’s long red hair. Liza jumps onto the bed next to her, and yells, “He’s sleeping! Baby brother’s sleeping!”

            “Shhh,” Mary hushes. She looks up at me. “Is it seven already?”

            “I came home early.”

            “The snow?”

            “I was thinking about what you said earlier, about wanting a date night.”

            She closes her eyes, smiling.

            Later, when Liza has been bathed and put to bed, and Gabriel is down for his first sleep shift of the evening, I pull her to me. She smells of rose-scented shampoo and the sour hint of milk, and we kiss awkwardly. We’re going through the motions at first, trying hard. The snow falls steadily outside.

            “This will get better,” I whisper.

            “We’ll keep trying,” she says.

            And I feel hopeful, I really do. Her body is different, softer, tender in unexpected places. Mine is a hundred years older than when we first met. We’ve created something, she and I, and by that I don’t just mean our children, but ourselves, our own bodies, and that thing that exists between them. I fall into that space, that place where we touch, and everything is new. Exciting, even. We’ll move forward from here, we’ll raise our kids, we’ll grow even older, and that thing will continue to change. Right now, I’m looking forward to it, even the exhaustion that will surely hit me like a brick when the alarm goes off tomorrow at five, and we start this all over again.            

 

_______

 

Erin Almond is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program, and has published fiction, essays, and reviews in Colorado Review, Normal School, The Boston Globe, and on Cognoscenti.com. She lives outside Boston with her husband, Steve, and their three children, and is currently at work on a novel. She can be reached at erinalmond@gmail.com

 

This entry was posted in Fiction, ROAR Magazine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

-->