Marcy wears full makeup, her hair loose like parted curtains, Mike’s navy-blue comforter pulled up to her collarbone. As covered as she can be while also being naked, her body an implication.
Mike is in the kitchen, making them coffee even though lunch hour is almost over. Either out of curiosity or habit—or both—Marcy sniffs Mike’s comforter; all she can smell is the slightly-stale whiff of their bodies, accumulated over the past few weeks, their mingled scent infused into the fabric like the paint in those YouTube videos of dip-dye, which Dean watches when he claims he’s going to take up DIY projects again. She wonders when the comforter was last washed. At home, she and Dean cover their comforter in a duvet slip, which they wash every two weeks, or when it smells like it needs washing. Whichever comes first.
Maybe this is why she does it: because it was we’re pregnant, but Marcy lost the baby. Because it was our sonogram appointment, but Marcy’s OB-GYN says another chance is unlikely at her age. Because it’s always us until it’s hard and then it’s her.
When Marcy and Dean meet other couples, the other couples are always delighted and shocked to hear that Marcy and Dean have been together since their sophomore year of high school. “High school sweethearts,” they coo.
When Marcy thinks of the earliest days of her togetherness with Dean, she thinks of a time before they were even dating at all: at a party, the first high school party she ever went to, two decades ago. Dean kissed her by the cooler even though they’d only spoken once before when he needed a pen in social studies. Though Marcy didn’t not like it—Dean was cute and she was quiet and it felt exciting and grown-up to kiss a near-stranger—she asked him, “Why’d you do that?” and he answered, his lips sticky with soda and beer and their spit, “How could I not, when you’re standing there looking like that?”
At night after a Dateline rerun, Dean slips his hand down the waistband of Marcy’s pajama pants and she wriggles away. “I have to pee,” she explains, slipping out of bed. He has only recently started initiating again, sporadically and reluctantly, like flossing. When she gets back, she curls up in a C and he doesn’t keep trying. He used to tickle her thigh and murmur “C’mon, you sure?” when Marcy wasn’t in the mood, which she supposes was meant to seem earnest, sweet.
On the Dateline episode they watched, a man searched for his wife, whom he claimed mysteriously disappeared on vacation to the Adirondacks. “Haven’t we seen this one before?” Marcy asked.
“No, just a similar one,” said Dean.
“They’re kind of all the same,” said Marcy. “Sometimes I think the husbands just killed the wives themselves. I wouldn’t put it past them.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Dean.
Probably Marcy does it, fucks someone else, because of the emails. It was months ago now that she was checking his phone for the Netflix password when it popped up, and she opened it, either because of or against her better judgment: would love to meet up again if you’re able to get away. Only if it’s really over between you and your wife tho. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. Sounds really tough. The next day, Marcy snuck onto the phone while Dean was in the shower and found his reply in the ‘deleted emails’ folder: will think it over ;).
When Dean is asleep, Marcy composes a risqué text to Mike (saved in her phone as Dominos Pizza, but why does she even bother to pretend?) and hovers over send. After the miscarriage, she missed two weeks of work: “It’s okay,” Dean told her. “It’s been a rough time. Your absence is totally justified.” She wonders if he’d think she was justified now.
Kyra Kondis is an MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University, where she is also the editor-in-chief of So to Speak Journal. More of her work can be found in Atticus Review, Cheap Pop, the Wigleaf Top 50 of 2020, and Best Microfiction 2020, and on her website at kyrakondis.com.