Xylophagy: the eating of wood, either alive or dead.  He wasn’t sure why that entered his head, butwhat followed were memories of termites, swarming in the den, littering wings, and Linda in her bathrobe, screaming with a vacuum nozzle to suck them up.  He wanted to ignore them, and eventually they did, as they eventually ignored most things, as they eventually ignored each other.

In bad marriages, things feel acute in the beginning.  Irritants swarm.

In time, you learn to live with things. You have to.

Linda went from hysterics to flicking wings off her robe sleeves soon enough.

You could eat them, he said, fried up.  They were oily, they’d crisp. You could use them for gasoline. He looked up their yield. He was going to figure out how much termite juice it would take to get out to Romulus, but he didn’t get around to it yet.

He watched animal shows and used the same adjectives. “Awesome”, for most of them.

“Amazing’, for the rest, mostly reptiles, he had always wanted an iguana.

“An iguana is a commitment, they grow real big,” Linda would say, holding her hands apart.

It annoyed him. Everybody said that.

Except Velma, who theorized that Harold really wanted a child, and this gave him something to think about along with xylophagy that day. A baby would be amazing, he said to only Velma who had four, whose swarms would never annoy him- he was sure- and whose hands never worked at emphasizing   anything.

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