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“We look ridiculous,” Teddy said. “I look like a blob, a hairy and hideous blob, and with a face only Helen Keller could love. Maybe.” He grabbed his wife’s hand. Even after 48 hours working as a surgical resident, she looked radiant. “You always look perfect.”
“Not I, but we,” Amy replied. “We look perfect, like a set of earrings.”
“I look like a troll,” said Teddy. “I should be living under a bridge.”
She ran her fingers along the inside of his thigh. “Don’t be silly. You’re handsome, rugged, and oh-so-loving, a true treasure to cherish, a rare find. Come up to our bedroom, and I will show you how much I adore you.”
He offered a tentative smile.
“Please,” she said. “I’ve missed you. It’s been too long.”
“Two days is too long?”
“One hour is too long.”
She handed Teddy the Polaroid.
He watched her ascend the stairs. She was long and elegant, with a bad girl smile. Mercy.
He studied the photo, hoping he could see what she saw in him. Nothing. I’m a pig, and neither rich nor interesting, he thought. I offer nothing a woman like her should demand. Yet, after two years together, she still desires me, an overeducated and underemployed orphan. I work in a copy shop. Oh yes, I am a catch. What does she see in me?
He shook his head, grabbed his cane, and hobbled over to the stair lift.
She stood at the foot of their bed, holding up a large bottle of pills, a mixture of blues and reds. “Tonight, we celebrate.”
Teddy looked over the edge of his laptop. “Don’t tell me; I missed our anniversary?”
“No, I’ve been promoted. You are looking at the new Chief of Surgery at St. Deaconess Hospital. Pretty impressive, no?”
“Oh, yes,” Teddy replied, eyes focused on the pills. Amphetamines? Speed? “What’s on your mind?”
“Come, now. You know. It’s been too long, my love.”
A part of him had hoped she would lose interest in him. Most women would, if they weren’t borderline nuts. He had reached more than 350 pounds. His legs, weak from birth, had become nothing but useless strings.
“Perhaps we should…wait. I’m not at my best.” Nine months ago, he had suffered a “minor” heart attack. He glanced at the heart monitor beside the bed, the IV drip.
“Nonsense, you’re recovering nicely,” she said. “It’s time we get back to work.”
Work? “I’m not sure I can.”
She shook the bottle. “With these blue babies and my charms, you will be fine. Trust ol’ Doctor Amy. You do trust me, right?”
“Yes,” he said. “Sure. Of course.”
“Fabulous,” she said and skipped to the door. Before sealing the room, she said, “I can’t believe how lucky I am to be with you. You’re almost perfect.”
He glanced down at his grotesque self. I’m almost perfect? Jesus.
Accompanied by the rhythm of his breathing apparatus and the soft sway of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major from the iPod, Teddy lay immersed in darkness. He could neither scream nor see; she had cut both his vocal cords and optic nerves. She had also stuffed him with pills and sweets. He did not know his weight, but he had bulged into a massive, fleshy beast — a thing created for their pleasure.
She slithered on top of him, taking in his erection. He could not stop her. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. He felt her heartbeat; it matched his. “Thirty years, my love,” she said. “We have come so far. We are no longer two, but one.”
He groaned with pain and pleasure. He no longer knew the difference.
She dug her fingers into his chest. “I knew from day one, you were the perfect man for me. The only man I could love completely.” Her voice trailed to a whisper. “The only man I could…”
Own, he thought. Own.
He breathed in, and then exhaled, silently laughing, lost in the epiphany that should have come so much sooner.
Now he knew why she loved him, and why he couldn’t have asked for a love any more absurd, and obscene, and … perfect.