didn’t know for what. Not for each other. They went to the movies. They
went to a club. They ate. They drank. They danced. They played cards.
They gambled. They went to the races. Off to the races, her father used
to say every day on his way to work. “No one talks like that anymore,”
she said. They were walking in the park. They called it hiking. They saw
a mountain lion. In her yard they saw deer, a coyote, a rabbit, a feral cat.
The wind died but the air stayed hot and the sky filled with the smoke
and pinks and reds and oranges of wildfires. Birds still liked her trees,
out of reach of the cats. A fog rolled in. After Thanksgiving, he didn’t
go back to school. When the rains came, the cats flew into the house,
still wild, still chasing one another and the mouse they’d lost inside the
stove. The rains brought flood and mudslides.
They still had not made love.
“Nothing is simple anymore,” she said.
“We live in a desert,” he said. “A desert canyon surrounded by desert
mountains, a desert basin opening on a desert beach. We wait for the
hot wind and when the wind comes we wait for the rain and when the
rain comes we pray for it to end. Nothing we know can survive the fires
and heat and rising ocean, and even though we know this we just go on
They still had not made love, and then they got busy again with work.
By the time he came to watch season three with her, he was married
to someone new, already divorcing, and the superhero film in which he
had played a small but standout supporting role was in postproduction.
She had started season three as something like a superhero herself, then
passed through an incarnation as a ghoul. By the end she didn’t know
what she was—fallen monster, victim, saint. She began to wonder how
much longer she could play this character and fantasized advocating for
her death in the coming season.
She had other friends and she knew he did too, but their worlds of friends
were separate from their life together. A life together, she thought. What
a strange idea it was. Their annual comic-book-series binge, their desert
drives. She saw his movie without him, more than once. She liked it
better at home than on the big screen. She would have seen everything
she loved about him in his small performance but for its exceptional
sexlessness. Then he asked her to be his date for the Oscars.
“You know what that would mean?” she said.
“We’d be seen together? Photographed together? Talked about?”