THE HUSBAND, THE MAN

Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

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Image courtesy of Amy Fang

The girl heard the wife laughing in the other room. The wife came out and found the girl showing the son a bug that had landed on the kitchen counter. The girl could hear the boy paging through his book at the kitchen table. The husband asked the girl what she was always writing in her notebook. When she showed him, it was passages she liked from books, taken down verbatim. He thought it was notes, he was glad it wasn’t.

There were too many new ideas in the world, he thought. Enough had already been put down. The tip of the teapot spout was a shard. The boy’s scooter was tipped on its side in the den. The girl’s boot was tipped on its side in the foyer. The husband was sleeping on his side. The wife was sleeping on her side.

The girl was wearing a pair of pants the wife recognized. They were her pants. “He gave them to me,” the girl said, “when I took the bag.” He had given her the bag to donate. She had taken them out of the bag.

The husband liked to have lunch in the sun. The wife rearranged the flowers. Steam rose from the teapot. Who had broken the spout?

The girl moved to St. John’s Place. Someone stole the girl’s suitcase as she was moving. The girl spilled ink on her skirt and held the fabric up to the kitchen sink. The girl didn’t have many skirts. The girl likes the dates she’s not supposed to eat out of the box in the refrigerator, and would like to get them for her aunt for Christmas, but she can’t ask where they’re from, because she’s not supposed to have eaten them.

The man describes the dongle she is to pick up, first as a dongle and then as the piece that goes into the video’s “female.” The girl joins a team. There was going to be a housing inspection. The husband asked the girl to install a second smoke detector.

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Image courtesy of Amy Fang

The girl opened the wife’s birth-control pack and looked at it.

The husband and wife needed a gift for a little boy. They told the girl it should be something to do with Central Park and cats. Why did the smoke detector glow red instead of green? The husband and wife had a chair covered in calf’s hair. The girl looked up Central Park cats. She read an article on Manhattanites who leash-trained their kittens.

No one sat in the calf’s hair chair.

The husband and wife had a vase shaped like a teardrop that held a single bloom.

What’s your job like? The girl asked the wife. Sometimes you could hear an airplane over the apartment. It’s a job, the wife said.

The husband asked if there was something sexy about a fortune cookie. The girl wondered: Was there?

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Image courtesy of Amy Fang

The husband used different expressions to explain his wife’s absence. Tuckered out. Pooped. Beat. Wiped out. Spent. Hit the sack. Head in need of a pillow.

The wife could tell when the girl had been in the fridge. The girl liked what smelled, foods the wife had bought but not realized were so pungent. She “wore” her ex-boyfriend. He was an artist and had done a limited edition line for a small fashion house. At the time, she told people, I only wear Christopher Owens and Dior. Fashion house.

Peanut butter. Marmite. Gorgonzola. From behind the bookshelf divider, the wife watched the girl peel off a bit of toenail and put it in her mouth. If you heard the Jurassic Park theme song in two boys’ voices, then the son had a friend over.