It starts like this: I open my front door and there you are. I’m wearing a dress. It’s casual, gray, ribbed fabric, racerback top. My shoulders are tan, a little broader and more toned than my real shoulders. That’s okay, this is just a fantasy. If my shoulders looked like that, I’d have short hair to show them off. Alexa Chung’s haircut. I’m a little bit thinner in the face—that makes sense, I’m grieving. The dress has a slit up one side.
I’m pregnant, of course. That’s why it’s so tragic. When I open the door, I place one hand on my belly, which is perfectly round. As I consider you, I run my hand up and down as though I’m protecting the baby, or using it as a talisman to protect me from you.
Oh, I say. It comes out as a breath. The rims of my eyes are red, but not puffy. I have summer freckles across my nose. My eyes would be puffy, though. I’m really sad. Depressed. Forcing myself, every day, to push through.
It’s okay to imagine my eyes wouldn’t be puffy. It’s just a fantasy.
But it’s important that you see how hard this has been for me.
And it would be hard, wouldn’t it. Maybe too hard. How would I even survive? If he died when I was pregnant, before he got to meet the baby? Maybe there shouldn’t be a baby. And I can be wearing black. In the summer, though? It could be winter.
No, there has to be a baby. I have to have a reason to be alive. If he died, I’d kill myself. I’d convince everyone I was fine so that they would leave me the fuck alone in my own goddamn house and then I’d do it. Maybe pills. No, not pills. I hate throwing up. You can die from sodium poisoning if you drink enough soy sauce. I like salt. But still, throwing up. Maybe a gun. It’s easy to buy a gun. I’d tell whoever was babysitting me I had errands, something innocuous. Books I had preordered. A quick shot to the head, easy. A blip.
You would be sad, if I died. You would be the one grieving. Ha.
I might not do it, if there were a baby. His baby. I would love it, because it was him. And me. My baby pictures. That little girl on the beach, holding a Hi-C, curling hair in a messy ponytail. With his brown eyes. The gap between his front teeth.
Maybe he could stay alive long enough to meet her. Couldn’t she be there, a toddler, grabbing onto my leg as I open the door? That would give him time to have a longer death. Maybe he gets sick when the baby is a newborn. And he has time to explain to me about our investments. If he died suddenly, when I was pregnant, in a car crash or something, I’d be in shock. And I’d seem like an idiot because I’d have no idea about our money and things.
But the shock is important. Why would I say yes to you, otherwise? When you show up at my door and ask me what you’re going to ask?
How could I watch him die and then give even one fuck about you? I would hate you.
Anyway, I would open the door and say, Oh, like a breath. There you are. You’re sorry about my husband. About everything. You’ve come to realize that you didn’t treat me the way I deserved to be treated. Your eyes are puffy, and your hair is a mess, and you’re in a tee shirt and cut off shorts. But that doesn’t matter to me, because you’re beautiful. Later, after you’ve said what you came to say, we’d be in bed, the pink sheets over our faces, the sunlight shining through so that we’re both glowing rose. I want to cry, looking at you, the way your bangs fall against your forehead, your bare arms.
In the doorway, you say something like, Hi. Maybe you’re actually wearing that white shirt, the band one, the one that cuts off right at your belly button. You say something like, I know this sounds crazy, but…
This is so stupid. It’s okay to just imagine spending a day with you without all this bullshit. Maybe we just run into each other somewhere, like both of our flights were cancelled and we can’t get home and we decide to pretend that you never hurt me and I never hurt you for just tonight and no one has to die or be born because of it.
But imagine if you said to me, I know this is crazy, but I’ve been thinking about it, and what if we did this, together? What if you let me help you and love this baby and love you forever? What if you let me watch TV and eat dinner on the couch with you for the rest of your life? Because I love you and I loved you then, even though I never said it. You don’t ever have to love me as much as you loved him.
If you said that, I would move my hand from the door, take a step back, and let you in. You would cry and fall to your knees and wrap your arms around me and kiss my belly. I would get down on my knees too and grab your face in my hands and say something like, Everyone will think we’re crazy.
It usually ends like that. It’s implied that we have sex, but I only imagine the sex if I’m in bed alone and feel like masturbating. Even then, I don’t get very far before I just put on porn. The best part is the clothes, and the grief, and knowing I am getting what I want and doing nothing wrong.