Snow covered everything outside—roofs, yards, window sills. If she stared, the brightness would cut in her eyes. The snow makes you think it’s morning.
He was beautiful beside her as she woke up. She wore flannel pajamas and socks to bed, while he didn’t even wear a t-shirt, said his furriness kept him warm.
A lithograph of a somber-eyed maiden in a cart drawn by a bear and a reindeer hung on the bedroom wall. He’d given it to her before they were married. “Our animal qualities,” he grinned and said.
“I’ll kiss you on your snout,” she said.
She turned away from him on the bed. She got smart, she got bright.
He smelled of aftershave. She smelled of sweat.
Last night she overheard the other woman’s voice on the telephone when he said he was working on the addict’s defense and, in the background, against squeaking chair and humming computer, the silky voice called him “Darling.”
Today she would ask the name of the other woman.
The furnace sighed; the curtains fluttered. On the ceiling the snow-slabs of light weighed so heavy they flattened her heart.
She clutched the bed-covers. She was cold, cold.
That morning she had chosen the lace blouse to contrast with her tweed skirt. Let him think she was a nun below.
At the edge of the piazza, a pigeon pecked at bread crumbs. A boy in short pants, carrying a stick hopped toward it, while his older brother yelled, “No, Luigi!” The bigger boy pulled the stick away.
She walked the colonnade with her husband.
She wanted to tell him about the tribes of cats in the Colosseum that she had seen when she visited as a student; old ladies fed them and the cats didn’t fight. She didn’t want to talk about his paralegal. She had counted the steps to the dome of St. Peter’s and the last step was short, imperfect. She had been out of breath at the top.
“Tell her to go.”
He stared across the piazza, where the faithful, eyes shining and focused, approached the basilica. He dropped his eyes and stared at the pigeon. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s try again.”
She pinched off some bread and threw it to the pigeon.