Lost in Translation
  Nine Stories by Laura Ruth Loomis
  1  The Sign
2  A Bird and a Picture Window
3  Trying Again
4  Tested
5  The Mermaid
6  Practicing
7  China
8  The Hostage
9  Like Riding a Bike
  About the Author  |  echapbook.com  |  November 2016 Fiction Issue
 
 

Tested

Julie

No, it’s fine, needles don’t bother me. You don’t even have to pretend it won’t hurt a bit.

My husband Roy, he hates needles. It’s one of the few things he’s completely irrational about. When he needs vaccinations to travel, you practically have to strap him down. He wouldn’t get a flu shot last winter, and he wound up getting really sick, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, the works.

Ow. No, that was my fault, I’ve been kind of shaky. I keep forgetting to eat. I’ll hold still this time. How long does it take to get the results?

It’s really been bothering me, these last few days. Roy getting that flu, I mean.

What sort of risky behaviors have I engaged in? I had sex with my husband.

Just, you know, sex.

Yes.

No, we never did that.

What were his risky behaviors? Roy told me he used condoms every time, for everything. Whatever “everything” means.

No, I didn’t ask him oral or anal or whatever. His exact words were that he’d been “doing things” with other men. Roy is normally very precise with language. A linguist, actually. He’s one of those people who knows the difference between lie and lay.

I didn’t ask Roy if he’s been tested. He doesn’t even know I’m here. That would be like an accusation, like telling him I still don’t trust him.

I don’t believe I just said that. Of course I don’t trust him. I’m going to spend the rest of my marriage trying not to panic every time one of us gets a cough. If there is a rest of my marriage. Staying with Roy now is risky behavior.

We’re talking about something that could end my life, and I don’t know if I can believe anything he tells me. He says he’s stopped, he says he used protection, but how do I know?

This is a man I would have trusted with anything. Did you ever see the first Superman movie, with Christopher Reeve? The part where he turns the earth backwards, turns back time to bring Lois Lane back from the dead? That’s the way Roy loved me.

And something in him was stronger than that love, something he couldn’t stop.

Fourteen years and you think you know what you’re doing, and now suddenly I don’t know which way the earth is spinning. It’s stopped and there’s no gravity and everything’s falling onto the ceiling and you just want to hang on. Am I making any sense?

I thought we had a good marriage. We have a son. I can’t think about this. Can’t think about what would happen to him without us.

Oh god, does Andy need to get tested too?

Fourteen years. We’ve been married fourteen years. Andy’s eight. I don’t even know how long Roy’s been...doing things.

I’m sorry, I’m not usually like this. Could you hand me those tissues? Thanks.

Even when I thought it was another woman, I’m thinking, midlife crisis, I’m not giving up on this marriage without a fight. But when he told me, I swear, it was like watching the man I knew disappear in front of my eyes.

The thing is, he really does love me. I love him. That hasn’t disappeared. I almost wish it would, because right now I’m living on that numb feeling, like being on Vicodin or something, and sooner or later that’s going to wear off and I’ll see what’s left.

No, I’m all right. I’m ready. Tell me.

Negative.

Negative.

Thank you. God. I’m all right. Thank you. No, I’m all right.

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  First published in Alalit
© Laura Loomis, 2006

   

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