It is as if she knew what he was thinking before he thought it; electrons are fast but not that fast. He checks the timestamps. Her reply is timestamped earlier than his original message by two minutes. The only logical explanation he can think of is she is in a slightly different time at school, that his time at home is warped and school is always two minutes ahead of home–no, it would have to be more–five minutes to account for her reading and thinking and typing, and so when she sends him a message she sends it back in time to where what has been done is being done. He concedes how explanations are not his specialty, but he doesn’t want to get into an argument about which time is right; it is not worth it in something as relative as a marriage to be right. In the upper right screen corner he sees the time and computes that even by his slowtime classes are out for the day. Everything is coming together. She works at her computer after school. It’s not that she knows what he’s thinking; it’s that time is warped. They are separate people. Individuals, even.
That’s hard, he replies.
Do we need to have a chat session? she replies.
I don’t do that, he replies.
Are you having sex with someone other than me? she replies.
I’m sorry I’ve been working hard lately? he replies and regrets the question mark but it’s already sent and this is why he doesn’t chat: he doesn’t do things fast.
It’s a straightforward question, she replies.
I don’t think so, he replies.
Ok. That wasn’t hard, she replies.
He stares at the screen for five minutes without replying. This is what people call writers block, he thinks.
Are you hard? she replies to her own message.
A chat would be more efficient, she replies.
Or a phone call, she replies.
Don’t call, he replies.
Is this story your fantasy? she replies.
It doesn’t feel like a fantasy, he replies.
I wonder if it’s a fantasy, she replies.
If it’s a fantasy, it’s not a very good one, he replies.
I just wonder why write about an affair, she replies.
For love, he replies.
Even if it’s for love, people are hurt, she replies.
People are always hurt. That’s what I’m probing, he replies.
I don’t think probing helps, she replies.
Nothing helps, he replies.
Loving helps, she replies.
That’s what I’m probing, he replies.
We climb through clouds and into sun and each time we enter sun I feel freer and more alive and more more than I have in years if ever and every time we exit the sun and enter a cloud I feel how I normally feel. If foggier.
Here is a biome consisting entirely of moss. Perhaps there are trees and rocks underneath, but all I see besides Antoinette and cloud is moss. Green. Graygreen or yellowgreen or browngreen or blackgreen or greengreen, but everything is hued in green. I don’t know if we are in a temperate rainforest, or what in other jungles is called a cloud forest, since we are in a cloud, or if everything is just green.
Then we are out of the cloud and in the larch and in the center of the larch is a meadow admitting the sun in the center of which is her cabin, which she enters.
But I have been infiltrated. Below my skin is a layer of moss, hungry moss, or at least some subcutaneous green. Before I enter, I take off my shirt, which I do not do when I first arrive, to absorb the sun and photosynthesize.
Do you want to have sex tonight? she replies.
I want to have sex right now, he replies.
Allen has a soccer game in half-an-hour. Is Lilly asleep? she replies.
Yes. There’s time, he replies.
I thought you could come to the game, she replies.
Lilly’s asleep, he replies.
I can squeeze you in between nursing Lilly and grading Geometry tonight if you put her down, she replies.
Somehow I think he needs to go insane, he replies.
You always think that, she replies.
I don’t mean insane insane. Just pull into himself, withdraw, complete himself in a way no one else can, disregard all the other foolishness of life, even if his action or inaction is interpreted as misanthropic or absurd or deranged by greater society, he replies.
Do you know you’re talking to your wife? she replies.
I’m not talking. I’m writing. And if he is going to go sorta insane I need to drive him sorta insane, he replies.
That is your specialty, but people like to read happy stories. This infecting pessimism comes from closing yourself off. Open up, go out, engage life, she replies.
“I am,” he says aloud as he pulls the powercord and does his best to not throw the most valuable object in their home through the window.