I bought the pants more for the name than anything else. Lucky they made my ass look good and had enough give in the waist that my middle only bulged if I sat down. Black with silver pinstripes. Tight white button-up on top. I didn’t wear much black anymore, so my choice of shoes was limited: one inch chunky heels I bought for my grandfather’s funeral or three inch fake leather fuck-me boots. Even in my current state of mind, the boots were too much. The pants were a bit too long, so they covered the sensible shoes anyway. In the fluorescent light of the closet bathroom off our make-shift bedroom deep in the belly of the sunless brick house, I applied more and more eyeliner, then lipstick, then more eyeliner, thinking in an off-handed way that the more I put on the uglier and cheaper I looked. At least I didn’t look like me.
I grabbed the yoga pants and sweatshirt of the day, then the pale blue hoody he mysteriously hated even though it exaggerated my large chest and shaped my thickening waist. I hid them in the closet when I heard him coming in and hurried back to the mirror to finish putting on another layer of eyeliner just as he walked into the bedroom.
“You going somewhere?” he asked.
“Where you goin’?”
“I don’t know. Somewhere.”
I panicked, unable to think of any place to go. I had no money, no friends in this concrete place. I heard the kids in the big dining room outside the bedroom.
“Why have you been calling escort services?”
My guts started shaking when the words escaped me, sounding to me like someone else said them, like when I used to get up early and go down to the lake up north, and I could hear the one other person awake in the world shout to his dog as the sun came up, his patient calls bouncing across the water.
After feigning ignorance, he blustered “Maybe if you dressed like this more often I wouldn’t have to do these things!”
A minute later, “I’m sorry but…”
Encapsulated in glass—melted, poured, seared and molded to every plump curve, every painted eyelash—I couldn’t scream. I don’t think I breathed. This was beyond my understanding.
“I never meant to call those places. I never did anything, I hung up.” He faltered. I could see him concocting another lie.
“I am not stupid,” using a voice I usually reserved for frightened children.
I felt no movement inside until I felt like sleeping with him; I decided it must be some kind of biological imperative, keep your mate kind of thing. Eventually my editor pants came off. He paid for the house, the food. Before, he was my love. I was his wife. That night I became a life-priced whore. Over the years, as our spurious marriage and disturbed sex life both waned, he reminded me often just how expensive I was.