night they ran an oscillating fan beside it to chase away the mosquitoes.
She lay down. Yawned. “My butt is totally jet-lagged.”
Simon went into the kitchen and pulled out bread, cheese and ham.
He poured wine. He felt agitated, and he wasn’t sure why. It might have
been the sight of the procession in the street.
“Did it seem weird to you?” he asked as they ate. She had grown up in
the church. He hadn’t. He had been impressed by the dense Catholicism
here and found the ritual and ornamentation interesting, but he had not
discovered any reasons to revise his opinion of god. He had never seen
the hand of god at work, and it had always irritated him that people
brought god into moral questions. The carrot/stick of heaven/hell was an
insulting absurdity. He thought that in any given situation the right thing
to do was clear enough without bringing god into it. “Religious ceremo-
nies seem so weird to me,” he said. “It’s like watching large numbers of
eccentrics come together to enact their eccentricities in coordination.”
“It’s not that complicated,” she said. “Everyone loves a parade.”
Whenever he pressed her on her actual beliefs, they seemed more or less
agnostic. But she also regarded repudiation of the church as a ridiculous
intellectual affectation, akin to wearing a beret or a jacket with patches
on the elbows. When Dennis was little they had argued about whether
to take him to church. Simon had been surprised by her emotion, and
finally he let her haul the boy off to sit in a pew on the condition that
Dennis could quit if he wanted to. At eleven years old he did quit. The
time in church didn’t seem to be the source of Dennis’s problems in
life. Except possibly as a reaction against. So maybe the church was the
They finished the wine, and Anny dressed for bed and lay down.
Simon turned off the lights and followed. She cuddled into him. He was
grateful and relieved that she had returned. It had weighed on his mind
that she might not. He felt he had always bored her a little, and as soon
as Dennis had moved out of the house she had begun to spend more and
more time out with friends. Sometimes she was gone four or five nights
a week. Maybe this was a nonissue, but he wasn’t sure. He felt a great
confidence in his estimation of most things, except her—the workings
of her motives and intentions were at times obscure to him. He believed
she had an artistic temperament that eluded his own mentality.
After a minute he asked, “Is our marriage going to survive?”
“The bed isn’t that bad,” she said.
“No. Dennis being done and gone.”