“Jen, I really don’t have much time.”
Peter Wong stood in the doorway of their bedroom, watching his wife adjust pillows and pull back the comforter. She kicked her black pumps into the corner and unbuttoned her blouse with one hand while the other continued to undo the bed.
“Oh come on. When’s the last time you turned down a nooner?” She shimmied out of her blouse and started working on the clasp of her skirt.
“It’s just that I have to be back by one, and you know how DuPont Circle is at this time of day. . .”
“Peter, we’ll be quick, I promise.” She turned the skirt around so the clasp faced front. Her hair fell in curtains around her face as she hunched over to get a better look.
Peter loosened his tie and sat on the bed. He flipped one shoe off with the toe of the other. He nudged it toward the nightstand with his sock foot. He rested the foot with the shoe still on it on his knee and pulled off the black loafer. Leaning over, he tossed it quietly next to its partner.
“Jen, I really need to get back to work.”
“Peter, I know. I do too — you know how pissed Margaret gets if I’m late. Look, if you’re really worried about it, you don’t even have to take off your shirt.”
“What?” she said, glancing up from the skirt clasp. She stopped working and dropped her hands to her sides. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you still dressed.”
“Look. I’m. . . I’m just starting feel like a piece of meat.”
Jen laughed and went back to work on the clasp.
She looked up again. “Wait, you’re being serious.” He stared at his socked toes, rubbing together like wrestlers trying to decide who should be on top of the other.
Jen sighed. “Pete, what do you need? Do you want me to take you out for a beer? Ask you how things went with Ways and Means today? What?”
“I don’t have time either! I’m sorry I didn’t sprinkle the place with rose petals. Do you want a blow job? I could warm you up with a quick blow job.”
“As refreshing as that would be after the last six months, no, I said, never mind.”
“What do you want from me Peter? Just say it!”
“Look, this is all just getting a little clinical, that’s all.”
“What are you talking about,” she turned back to the skirt clasp, “Damn this thing. It’s never worked right.”
“I’m talking about you. You don’t even care if I’m undressed when I make love to you. You just want to make sure I screw you and get it over with.”
“Since when did screwing me require having all your clothes off?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Do I? God damn this thing!”
“Jen, you’ve gotten. . . obsessed.”
“Oh. Oh. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so inconvenienced by having to fuck me more often than you’d like to. I’m sorry you’re so tired. I’m sorry you feel like some kind of stud horse that’s been brought in to do his business and get stuck back out to pasture without even a little pat on the ass. I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry. But I can’t help it. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing everything they’re telling me to do. I know how important it is to follow directions. I’m doing it just right. Because this is important. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. And I’m doing it all! I’m doing it right! Oh screw this thing! Son of a bitch!” She ripped the clasp away from the material until it was hanging by threads long enough to make the opening fit around her hips. She yanked it down to the floor and kicked it high across the room where it almost knocked over a pair of green glass vases and a picture frame.
“We,” he said.
“The most important thing we’ve ever done.”
She exhaled and crumpled. Peter patted the top of his thigh. Reaching out one hand, she grabbed a fist-full of his shirt near the collar and pulled herself toward him. She climbed onto his lap and laid sideways against him — her cheek pressed against his chest and her fists pulled in under her chin. He held her and traced circles around her kneecap with this tip of his middle finger.
“It’s gonna happen,” he whispered. She nodded her head. He brought his hand to the side of her face and tucked her hair behind her ear. She wiped the wetness from her cheeks with the palms of her hands.
“I wanna go home,” she said. “I hate it here.”
“No you don’t. You’re just saying that because you’re upset.”
“No I’m not. I’ve never been happy here. I thought I’d get used to it when we left California. . .” She sat up and looked at him. “I need air, Peter. I know you want to be here for Popo, but five years ago you said she may only have a couple of years left, and she’s still really, really fine. If we live our whole lives for your dad’s mom, we might be here until she’s a hundred.”
Peter shuffled his feet on the rug. He could feel the static building up as the two surfaces collided.
He wrapped his arms around his wife and pressed his lips to the top of her head.
And special thanks to Ms. DeBie for once again designing our logo. Be sure to check out the other writers this week.