down. To marry her had been a mistake. His mistake. As if he could
evade his fate. He had gone back to school. He was studying philosophy
and history, he said, when he wasn’t volunteering on somebody or other’s student film.
In his absence, Ursula had been careful to avoid relationships. She had
had sex with a few men, hookups from the catering world, strangers
from one of those random gigs, one-time encounters half anonymous,
never with anyone who knew her or ever could know who she really
was, never leaving an electronic trail. She did not permit herself surrender beyond the physical, and now that she had a public face again, her
options for one-off sex were even more limited. She no longer shared an
apartment but rented a small house on a hillside and filled it with plants
and a pair of cats and hired a sitter to live in it whenever she was away.
Will haunted her fantasies, where she dwelled in her imaginary of him,
lover and brother from a simpler and more beautiful world. His breakup
with his wife hadn’t brought him any closer, and Ursula was often away
in Vancouver shooting the second season, which was longer than the
first. As her character’s arc gained complexity, she was allowed at last,
for a while, to wipe the clownish blood-red lips off her face, but months
later, when Will showed up with takeout to binge the drop with her, calling it a new tradition and wearing black silk and denim, his hair long,
darker than its natural color and thickened, “Are you in costume?” were
the first words out of her mouth.
“You sound like her,” he said.
She knew who he meant. “I am her. Her voice is my voice.”
He started talking at her, in convoluted academic language, about
power and menace, parody and kitsch, comparing comic-book charac-
ters, comic-book colors and costumes, comic-book plots, with plots and
characters drawn from historical records, costumes and colors nuanced
and modeled on centuries of art.
She laughed at him with her comic-book character’s stiletto laugh.
“Are you trying to grow your wig? Do you intend to be my brother for-
They almost fought but backed off, settled down into her pillows and
muted their phones to watch, uninterrupted, all fourteen hours of her
show’s second season. After her character’s foray into vulnerability, by
the finale she was painted red again—her mask, though a little more