It Comes to This
In the middle of the night, Melanie had to wake up her husband and say, “I wet the bed.” It made her feel like a child all over again.
She went in the bathroom, wiped herself with a damp cloth, and changed into a clean set of pajamas. People had told her it was ugly, the way embarrassment spread in hot bright patches across her cheeks, and she imagined their insults stored as fat around her stomach and thighs, rolling and dimpled and smelling faintly of yeast. She could not look at herself in the mirror. She would not.
While she stripped the bed, her husband sat in a chair in the corner of the bedroom where he normally put on socks and shoes before work. Melanie waited for him to help but he just looked at his feet with disgust. She draped the quilt on the floor, piled the sheets, pillowcases, and soiled nightgown in the middle, and wrapped up the bundle like a dirty diaper.
Her baby wasn’t a baby anymore. Jeremy lived in Chicago and performed with an improv troupe. Sometimes he called to complain about the wind, but it wasn’t like the old days when his penis caught in the zipper. She’d held it in her hand like a little fish, freed it, let it go. The whole family caught bream on Crystal Lake one summer. Her husband had sucked her nipples in the rented cabin, and in the loft her son played with a King Friday puppet from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Then her baby left and her husband became an old man and while putting on her bra one morning Melanie noticed that the skin of her left breast was starting to look like an orange peel. She waited until her annual check-up to tell the doctor, who first scolded her for delaying a biopsy, and then reported that she was officially obese. The long O was a tunnel that she had been falling down ever since. She was ready for a swift, bloody landing.
In the bedroom, Melanie’s hips and knees ached as she sat on the wooden stool in front of her vanity. She looked at her husband sitting in the chair. He looked at the wet stain on the mattress. Time was of the essence but neither of them moved.
Wynne Hungerford‘s work has appeared in Epoch, Subtropics, Blackbird, The Brooklyn Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, American Literary Review, The Normal School, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among other places. She received her MFA from the University of Florida. Learn more at www.wynnehungerford.com.