The Husband As Mentalist
BY REBECCA HAZELTON
Think of a number. Hold in your mind the age you were when you first realized your body couldn’t be trusted to take care of you. Maybe the first kiss, that boy with a penknife, or maybe what came after. Maybe it was bleeding every month and then the month you didn’t. Or the running leap and the short fall marked, the pebble gravel spraying. Or the bike tumbling into the ditch and the long gash in the leg’s meat. The moment can vary. The tells don’t. The way your mouth moves and I follow. How you toss your hair, as if to say, just get on with it. But waiting is something I’d like to teach you, just like I’d like to teach you how to touch without touching, how I know which door you’ll walk through before you do, the way you sweeten your coffee until it’s syrup. Lying is wrong, and so I always tell you the truth about why you want the things you want. The easiest thoughts to find are the ones that mean something, if only to you. When you got up from that ditch your sock was red with blood. You walked home because you knew no one was coming, and the cars passed with their bright headlights, en route to warm houses where mothers pick up on the first ring and fathers carry girls with scraped knees home. Maybe you didn’t know your own number and that’s why no one answered. It was nothing, you say, but nothing is also a number.