A skull appears in her cave. To this skull she wonders, “Who were you? What did you dream?” Chapter 17 brought her here:
- The maid brings you a ribbon tied box containing a gown of your husband’s choosing. He asks you to wear it.
- You do so by the tub and he never comes. You perceive only a grayness, a haze, and nothing of your husband words; indeed, you do not even remember his voice.
- You wait at the edge of his bed, rubbing your arms for the chill, considering the moment to come. It never does.
- And so you return to the room of books.
- Outside you wait, and how long the minutes seem, and finally when you knock upon the bathroom door you hear no answer.
- The maid brings you a scrawled note directing you to his chambers. He’s not there.
- You strain to reconstruct passages from the room of books. You see the ribbon tied box on the backside of your eyelids.
- You go back to his chambers. He is there, waiting for you by the tub. You stand before him and in the dim light you see the long suspected dome of his head. It shines like ribbon.
- He gathers you into his terrible warmth.
- He whispers the name he has given you.
- His voice is gray. And your eyes well with tears.
- Then you feel yourself change. Your eyes the while, intense and calculating and wild, and perhaps prepared to dart from the room, out a window.
- You wish to lie beyond the wall, for there wandered the souls of the dead. They surely must know.
- You imagine what theories he would have expounded in his studies.
- With your fingers at the ridge of your ribs, you whisper, “A toe first my dear.”
- You take the coarse sponge in hand. “Will you let me wash you?” He nods and so do you.
- And you drown each other, side-by-side, the grim wings of shoulder bones, cold against the porcelain, the spotless white tiles of the bathroom floor and the thrumming oil lights. The slick glistening oval of his skull, the pale flaps of his breasts, the graying tufts of hair. Your slim pale buttocks. All of it, together, before this skull.
BIO: Glen Binger writes books and helps people learn how to learn. He’s the author of eNJoy: Stories by the Sea and Figment. His other work can be found via Google, along with many answers to the questions haunting your sleep.