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But when I walk inside, my house feels like someone else’s. There’s an unfamiliar smell, as if someone besides Gloria and me was recently here. I feel like I’m intruding. I know that doesn’t make any sense.

I go into the kitchen and get some water from the refrigerator, gulp it down in giant swallows. Get more and gulp that down, too.

Gloria is in the study. I can hear her typing, probably already working on her blog. I don’t want to interrupt her but we need to talk. I need to tell her I don’t feel quite right. That maybe I’m depressed or mixed up a little, that maybe I’ve been seeing things that aren’t there. As I reach the study she stops typing and clicks on something with the mouse. When she looks up at me I notice her eyes are red, as if she’s been crying.

“I’m sorry about what I said in the car. About your brother. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I don’t understand, Thomas. Every time we’re doing a little better, it’s like you sabotage it. It’s like you don’t want us to work. Is that it? Do you not want to be in this anymore?”

“Of course I do, Junior.”

“Then why do you try to hurt me?”

“I don’t…I didn’t…I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

“It’s hard to know how to feel about Michael. It’s confusing. I’ve thought about this a lot, about what God has written, and about how much I love my brother. I don’t know what the right answer is, baby, but I know us arguing about it doesn’t help anything.”

“I just…a lot of things don’t make sense to me anymore.”

“Like what? Like going to mass? Like our relationship? What doesn’t make sense?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel very well lately.”

“Thomas,” Gloria says. “I know what it’s like to question your faith. You know I almost left the church when we were in college. Meeting you helped turn me around.”

“You almost left the church because of Jack.”

“And meeting you helped turn me around, I said.”

The numbers in my head are back. A woman recites these numbers against a constant pattern of static and noise, interrupted by occasional crackles of distortion, and underneath it all I can almost hear a melody of some kind. Haunting strings, dissonant…possibly electronic.


“I was in a terrible place,” Gloria says. “Jack made me feel awful, like I was such an idiot for believing in God. Like I was a child, like it was all just a fairy tale. I hated that.”

“He doesn’t make you feel like that anymore? You see him every day.”

“We don’t talk about that. We talk about work.”

“Work can’t be the only thing you ever talk about. You’re there all day long.”

“Don’t do this,” she says.

“Don’t do what?”

“Please. I don’t want to talk about Jack again.”

“We never talk about Jack.”

“You have to let it go, Thomas.”

“I’m not the one who brought him up just now. You did.”

She looks at me strangely, as if I’m not making sense.

“Baby, I didn’t bring up Jack just now. You did. Don’t you remember?”

I don’t remember that at all. I try to rewind the conversation to the point where Jack was introduced, but Gloria interrupts me.

“Baby, this isn’t going to work.”


“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t fight with you anymore. If we keep doing this it’s going to make me want to leave and not come back. I love you to death and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but I can’t do it like this.”

“Junior, what are you saying?”

“I’m asking you for the last time to let it go. Let Jack go. You are my husband. I love you, not him. Yes, I loved him once, and I know it’s bizarre and uncomfortable that I report to him now, but I’m with you. You’ve always been my rock, baby. You’re my solid ground. I love that about you. So trust me and find some peace about this. Please?”

“Okay,” I say. “I promise not to bring him up anymore.”

“Thank you. Come here and give me a kiss.”

I walk over and bend down and touch her lips with my own. I know she’s right. We can’t go on like this.

I don’t know when I’m going to tell her about what I saw today.

I don’t know if I should.

These lips don’t feel like Gloria’s.

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