After three days, my husband comes home with the moon pillow, still in its plastic. I don’t know how he paid for it. Maybe he didn’t.
“For you,” he says. Nothing else. He’s stopped explaining his disappearances and I’ve stopped asking. I already know more than I want.
My current pillow is so old it’s turned yellow like a book page and almost as flat. The last time my husband vanished, he brought me pajamas that feel like summer on my skin. He always knows what to bring me.
“Why’s it a moon pillow?” I ask.
“Because there’s moondust inside.”
How is that even possible? I don’t say. I also don’t say, I thought you were dead. I always think he’s dead. It doesn’t matter what I think.
I pull the moon pillow from the plastic. It’s attractively puffy, the opposite of my husband’s deflating face. I strip my old pillow, stuff the moon pillow in the case. Like magic, the pillow shrinks to fit its confines, then expands them.
I expect something special when I lay down my head, but it’s just a pillow, propping my neck too high. I miss my gross flat cushion. But then the back of my head gets a twinkling feeling that spreads. Pretty soon I’m outer space, dark and sparkling, my edges unseen.
“What do you think?” my husband asks.
I don’t want my words to knock the good feeling loose.
“That good, huh?” he says. He knows me so well. Like in the bible. To know someone is to live inside them and also absorb them so they live inside you.
My husband lies down beside me and disappears again, in a different way. The sides of his face are cool, dry caves. His eyes, tunnels. No ring on his twig finger: it fell off or he sold it.
Still, he’s enormous. I can’t find the end of him.
I scoot over, share my darkness, every speck.
I throw him the moon.
Jennifer Wortman is a National Endowment for the Arts fellow and the author of the story collection This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love. (Split/Lip Press, 2019), named the 2019 Foreword INDIES bronze winner for short stories, the Westword Best of Denver 2020 pick for best new short-story collection, and a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards and the High Plains Book Awards. Her fiction, essays, and poetry appear in TriQuarterly, Copper Nickel, Glimmer Train, Normal School, Electric Literature, Brevity, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, and elsewhere. An Ohio native, she lives with her family in Colorado, where she teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop and serves as associate fiction editor for Colorado Review. Find more, if you wish, at jenniferwortman.com.
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