by Jesse Cramer
Simon Willis fancied himself a liberal—a progressive even. The ideas of personal sovereignty and sexual liberation were, after all, great concepts. But as he sat on the wooden steps outside his front door, one hand in his pocket and the other kept warm by the bowl of a long-stem tobacco pipe, he wondered how to justify such ideals when they came crashing down upon his simple family and threatened to tear it apart.
He tapped the embers out onto the snow and stood, placing the pipe into the cargo pocket of his work pants, and faced the door. His thoughts still wandered as he turned the knob and stepped through.
He shook the thin dusting of snow off his down jacket and hung it on the hook. He slid his feet from the heavy brown snow boots and step onto the worn green carpet. The carpet had been recommissioned from a hotel remodel and now lined the floor of the rickety trailer-house he rented for three hundred dollars a month. He sat at his desk to write. Really he sat to stare at the screen and ignore the couple sleeping on the couch behind him.
Couple? He should be happy for them: the twitterpation of young love.
But she was Simon’s woman.
She was a sovereign person and had the right to be happy—or at least try. Simon thought. But this is our house. Sleeping down the hall are our children. At the far end of the trailer is our bed. The quilt covering their naked bodies is my fucking quilt. I should wake them. I should tell her it is time to come to bed … with me.
She deserves to be happy, and so does he, I suppose. What does my pain really matter? I have felt pain before. I can handle it. And maybe this is less painful than seeing her sad—sad and hopeless: trapped by life, trapped by me, trapped by the children, trapped by a job she hates. Let them have this night, and every other if it makes her happy.
No, he would not wake them.