She says, “Your kisses are starting to give me paper cuts.” She says she dreams in black and white now, no different than a dog.
In bed we stare at the walleyed moon but it does not look back at us. A sheath of cloud cover sleets by like a lost ghost.
“Tomorrow we should look for lost children,” she says.
The little girl went missing on Tuesday. Neighbors have formed search parties. Tomorrow is Saturday, a day off for me.
“It’s not your fault, you know,” I say.
“No, of course not.” But she looks worried. Her pupils have no light left in them. I’ve been wrong all along: my wife dreams must all be in black, not white or shaded spots at all. I try to coax her. I say, “We could stay in bed and make love all day. We used to do that.”
She eyes me like a disappointed moose. “Yes, we did.”
“We should look for the girl.”
“Yes, we should.”
Behind the AM/PM, the lot gives way to a field of crunchy brown ground and weed grass. Thistles catch in my socks. Brush rakes spiked leaf tips across my calves and I wish I’d worn long pants.
“What if we find her?” she asks. What if she’s dead when we find her, she means.
“It will be horrible but it will also mean the start of closure.”
“Do you always have to be a shrink?”
I don’t answer because I’m not sure what that answer should be. I wish I could turn it off. It’s no picnic being me.
We look for hours. We call out the girl’s pretty-sounding name. We take turns.
That night we sit on the porch under the belly of a bleak, black night, a smattering of itching to glimmer. My wife has her knees drawn up under her chin.
“We should make up a new version.”
“A better ending?” I say, realizing after the words are out that they could be taken as uncouth and cruel.
As she rocks back and forth, the moon arrives and seems pleased.
“You’ll have to start.”
I know what she’s thinking, that if she begins, the story will end badly. The girl will have died a gruesome death. She’d gotten close herself when she was a little girl. In a way, my wife went missing, too. She and her sister were playing Hide N Seek in a field. Laura, my wife, was older but slower. Laura called “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!” over and over, but the tall wheat grass had got her, taken her someplace, and Laura’s sister was never seen again.
I reach out to hold Laura’s hand now and she lets me. This is good, I think, a resetting.
I pull my wife close; breathe in the smell of her hair which is like warm bread. I kiss the scalp where she’s parted her hair.
I begin. I whisper, “The girl came out of the tunnel dizzy but happy to see so much earthly sunshine.”