My wife is losing her elasticity. Her skin is puckering up, crinkling like an ancient accordion. I have begun to wonder if it had been happening since we’d met five winters ago, and that I’ve been too enamored to realize that her skin is turning to dust. But I’ve begun missing her—collecting the fragments of her. That’s what she’s become. Her skin had always resembled sandpaper from November to February. It couldn’t have happened over night.
I’ve vacuumed her apartment—picked her up with the Hoover and emptied her remnants into a glass IKEA canister. She loved IKEA.
Now I place her in my mammoth purse, pull her out at the sliding doors, and put her into the half basket buggy. I push her through the lighting section, past her favorite Kvart wall lamp. I pause to show her the new Varde double bowl sink that we’ll never purchase and install.
We arrive at our bed—the same model she had bought when we decided to toss our single’s furniture and build our very own new world. This bed is where we’d made love innumerable times. I settle my back into the pressed showroom sheets. I cling to her, in her jar. I unlatch her suctioned canister clasp and press my cheek to the opening. Don’t fret, darling, echoes from the dusty jar.
My wife is now a fine, ground soot. I cannot make love to her powdered form.
I buy two seaweed green coffee mugs. She’d want me to continue constructing our life because clearly she can’t.
Telling her boss was the most uncomfortable of situations. He never cared much for me and naturally he thought I was lying about Jess’s current condition.
“What do you mean she’s in pieces?” He bellowed over the phone.
“She’d tell you if she could, Davis, but she’s got no mouth.”
I wonder when the police will show up. She’s a likable woman, sure to be missed.
She sleeps on the nightstand now. At first, I’d tucked her into the charcoal colored bed linens with me. But one night after we’d finished watching a movie, she slid off the edge hitting Pirate, our cat, right in her fat middle section. If not for Pirate, I’d be sucking my wife back up and spilling her bits into a new receptacle.
Sometimes I try to spruce her up.
While we’re having our morning coffee, I’ll pop her open and spin her around picking out the stowaways I’d carelessly siphoned up off our apartment floor. But it’s really those extra pieces that embody who she is. The little bits of white Pirate fluff, a stray coffee bean, one of my bobbie-pins now nearly rusted.
She was always flaky, but it grew worse when we’d begun our life together. She would get out of bed in the morning and brush her skin sprinkles off the fitted sheet. She didn’t know that I was aware of her shedding.
Every Sunday, since she turned to ash, I take her on a bike ride. My wife loved to ride bikes. I strap on her Chrome messenger bag, tug the strap tight across my chest, and ride her around downtown. I want her to feel the wind rush through her hair, but that notion is foolish—she has no hair. She’d just blow away and I’d lose her for good.
Gidga, her dog, has become depressed. He’s torn up the two small kitchen floor mats and swallowed her shoelaces. I have no idea how he un-strung the shoes.
We tried everything. Medical lotions, oil treatments, organic products, oral supplements, mud wraps. Into her last two weeks, her skin-shard trail began to coat our wood floors. I spent one hour each morning whisking her up. I should have saved those earlier pieces of her. But then she might not fit in my purse, in her jar.
I’d have to turn her clothes inside out before washing them to make sure her fleshy crumbs were washed away.
Most mornings I take her to shower with me. I place her on the built-in ledge where the shampoos supposed to go and I wash and watch her.
If I act as though she can come back, collect those grainy pieces and assemble herself, she just might.
I dump a palm-full of conditioner onto my head. “Honey, I washed your favorite jeans today.” I’ve grown to enjoy her recent silence. After six weeks of wordlessness you have no choice.
Gidga is taking this a bit harder than I am. I’ve considered dumping him at the pound. But I decided it’d be smart to wait a little longer, till I was certain she couldn’t come back. I wouldn’t want her to sit trapped helplessly behind thin glass, watching, and unable to save her poor pup. I can’t be the bad guy.
It’s been five months. I am no longer empathic to her muted state. All of our friends are sectioned into couples—pairs of two. Jess is in a jar. I cannot kiss her lips. I cannot lace my fingers between hers.
My wife hated love stories, but she has no opinion now. I made her watch P.S. I Love You on her last night. I opened her container and let my tears trickle down onto her. Miniscule dust plums ruptured and rose from her gritty matter. I tucked her in one last time. I awoke the next morning to Pirate meowing, standing with her paws on my chest. I sit up and set her down. I knew it was time. Jess and I showered, as usual. I set her on her ledge. After I finished shampooing my hair I opened her up and stepped out of shower stream. I sprinkled her over my pink pom-loofa and smeared her onto my skin. I let the lukewarm water push her down my abdomen and watched her circle clockwise down my shower drain.