She is bones and blades now, with skin hanging loose as drapery.
In college, along with a band of other students, I would draw her, each pencil shaking like a seismographic needle. How could they just sketch? Didn’t they see her, know she was naked, know she was the most stunning woman in the world? The teacher inspected my work with a twisted face, as if he’d smelled rotten egg salad, and asked if I was sure I belonged in the class. “It’s a new art form,” I said, “in the way that pointillism was new one day.”
She’s fresh out of the shower. Her pubic bone pokes out like a helmet. Before she can grab her robe, I take her wrists in my hands and tell her to look at herself in the mirror. “I know,” she says, “I’m a fat, ugly cow.”
She dresses. She puts on three pair of legging and heavy flannel trousers, pads her blouse with several underpinnings, uses garish makeup in hopes of distracting our therapist from her sunken cheeks.
At the appointment she laughs and flirts with the doctor. She leads and lies. A machete goes to work on my rib cage.
“See,” she says when we’re done, “that was easy.”
We go to The Ivy for dinner. Ben Afflect is there with his movie star wife. Their kid is throwing cheese crackers at patrons and squalling.
The waiter brings a radicchio salad and I watch my wife rearrange lettuce leafs and red onion rims as if she is creating a pastiche art piece.
Eat something, I think but do not say. My pleading only backfires. I order more wine, a bottle this time. Her eyes arch. I don’t care.
At home her cell rings. They want her for the Spring show. I hear her squeal. Her heels clatter on the floor. She says to the caller, “Of course not. I’ve actually dropped more weight. Yeah, yeah, I knew you’d be happy.”
When she hangs up she runs into me for a hug. She is bones. I can’t even find cartilage.
I want to ask if it’s worth it, but I could ask that same question of myself. Why do I stay with her?
She pulls away, tears streaking down the sharp ridge of her cheeks, but she’s grinning. “Let’s do something crazy,” she says.
“Like what?” I ask.
“Let’s make a bowl of popcorn, and eat the whole thing.” LS