by talal achi
When Gary woke up and rolled over in his bed it was his wife he was looking at. It was Connie all right. But she’d aged. God! She was at least forty years older. Her face was like a dried fruit, little black seeds for eyes. Her breath now had that distinct sweet fermentation smell that always wafts from the elderly.
Holy shit, Gary thought, holy shit.
“Hi,” Connie said.
“Mmm,” Gary said, feigning sleep.
Oh, good idea, Gary’s body reacted, activating the physiological defense mechanism of narcolepsy, sleep more, Gary, everything will be OK later.
So Gary fell asleep again. When he woke this time, Connie was out of the bed. The trepidation of was it a dream? was it a dream? had Gary feeling weird.
From the bathroom, the sounds of ablutions suggested Connie’d begun her morning ritual. Plip, plip, plip, she peed. Scrrr, scrrr, scrrr, she brushed her teeth.
Gary pushed himself up and off the bed.
OK, OK, get in there, Gary, he thought.
Gary slipped into the bathroom and wrapped his arms around Connie’s waist. Then he looked up and saw their reflection in the mirror: Gary, young; Connie, old. Gary felt himself squeeze Connie tighter. He dug his face into her neck and inhaled. That sweet and sour smell.
“What is it?” Connie asked, playfully gyrating her hips.
The noise that came out of Gary’s mouth was involuntary. It was something between a yelp and a sob. The feeling of producing this sound caused Gary to remember what it felt like to be a boy waiting for his mother after school, fearful that she’d never show. The tears welled in his eyes.
“What is it, Gary?”
The sound spilled from him again.
“Jesus, Gary, are you OK?”
Get a hold of yourself, Gary! he thought.
“Yeah, sorry,” Gary said, “I just remembered my dream. It was weird.”
“Oh,” Connie said. “Do you want to tell me about it?”
“Mmm. No, it’s OK, never mind.”
“Was it sexual?” Connie put extra emphasis on “sexual.” She reached behind her, put her hands on Gary’s buttocks, and squeezed.
“Sort of,” Gary said.
Just go with the flow, he told himself.
“Sort of? Was I in it?”
“Uh, no. It was no one we know,” Gary said, “it wasn’t even anyone at all, more like a presence…”
“Was it a girl or a guy?”
“That’s some of the weirdness,” Gary said. “It was neither…or both…”
Gary was now describing a dream he’d actually dreamt a few days ago.
“Did you know in some languages they don’t ascribe a gender to God? Maybe you were fucking God…or maybe God was fucking you,” Connie said.
Gary let go of Connie. He’d been holding her for an awkward amount of time. He dabbed toothpaste onto his toothbrush.
“Mmm,” Gary said.
So what if she’s suddenly old? Gary thought, she’s still my Connie for sure.
“Did it feel good?” Connie asked.