On Friday my wife dyes her hair the color of shimmering obsidian. It is a wonderful and bewitching color. It furnishes my brain with vigor, and engorges my body with buckets of lust and reverence. That night, we toss off our clothes in revelry, gulp down a bottle of Kahlua, and take hundreds of pictures of ourselves in the bedroom.
On Monday, my wife visits the salon again and dyes her eyebrows black. Upon returning home, a single glance causes our lascivious feelings to resurface. So we call out of work for the week and enjoy a rapturous six days together.
On Monday I reenter the world and resume my clothed duties at work. While sitting in a soul-rotting meeting about recapturing mindshare in a fractured media marketplace, my wife informs me via text that she has painted her teeth black. She tells me that she has stained her eyeballs black. She tells me that she has wrapped our bed in black silk and slathered our bedroom walls with three coats of purple paint.
For the next hour she sends me hundreds of pictures to support her claims. Upon viewing these photos, I begin sweating profusely. My face bakes strawberry red. My breath devolves into a labored wheeze. My fingers grow stiff and swollen.
Moments later, my boss yells my name and orders me to the front of the conference room. He says it is time for me to present my marketing strategy for next quarter.
Two seconds pass and my phone begins to vibrate. I nod at my boss in panic and try to send the call to voicemail, but my phone slides through my fingers and clatters to the ground.
My boss bellows my name again and punches the table with his fist. I gasp a strangled breath and apologize in a tiny voice. I bend down to pick up my phone and my wife moans loudly through the speaker. Hearing this I try to tell her to stop, but I do not possess the breath to speak again. Also I do not want her to stop. I do not have the power to refuse her in these matters.
My coworkers snicker and stare. My boss threatens to fire me on the spot. My wife groans in pleasure and says oh god I’m almost there. Smashing against my sternum like a pile driver, my heart feels like it will soon explode. So I snatch my phone off the floor and stumble into the sweltering hallway.
I push past a woman in a pantsuit. I gasp a jagged breath of sticky air. Fat beads of sweat drip from my trembling fingers. My polished leather oxfords cut streaks of black rubber into the glassy tile floor.
Steve Gergley is the author of The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories (Malarkey Books '24), Skyscraper (West Vine Press '23), and A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair (Leftover Books '22). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, Passages North, Always Crashing, Rejection Letters, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: https://stevegergleyauthor.wordpress.com/