Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Short Fiction
My wife and I share everything. It's one of the many joys of marriage.
We share a name. Not just one but all three. We were both Emma to begin with. Once we were married, I took her last name out of convention, and she took my middle name out of respect. We've gotten our fair share of sideways comments over the years. "You call out your own name in bed?" they ask, and they laugh. "Yes," we say. "Can you imagine anything more intimate?"
We share an entry in the white pages. The editor must have thought it was a repeat.
We share our children. When our son calls for Mom, we both come to him. When our daughter is in the stroller, we grab a handle each. Two pairs of hands tuck them into bed. Two people hug them when they cry.
We share our career. We are an author publishing the work of two women under the same moniker. Again, it's much easier given our situation. We work adjacent to one another, both typing approximately 46 words per minute. An alarm sounds every 32 minutes and 10 seconds. At this time, we swap computers and edit. This system works so well for us that we've taken to doing the same with our diaries.
We share our clothes. One pair of panties, three leg holes. One bra, four cups. One t-shirt, double wide and with that well-worn kind of softness to the fabric that we just love. Skirts most of the time for practicality's sake, although we own one or two pairs of pants for special occasions. Sometimes, when we're feeling cheeky, we braid our hair together. Unfortunately—and we don't speak about this very often because it's quite distressing for us—we do not have the same size feet. As a result, our shoes average out in the middle. They're a bit too large for me and a bit too small for her. She's had to have a couple minor surgeries on ingrown toenails.
Speaking of, we share our doctor's visits. Not only does it suit us, but we've found that it makes for a remarkably efficient appointment on the doctor's end. When the dentist asks a question, his hands are only in one of our mouths at a time, and the other is free to respond. Our gynecologist knows us so well by now that she designed a special chair. For the aforementioned ingrowns, the physicians have to inject a local anesthesia underneath the toenail. I tell them to go ahead and give me one of those, too. We hold hands while we share the pain. Come to think of it, we hold hands most of the time.
We'll share a coffin, too. I put it in our will.
Of course, people question us. "Don't you ever want some space? Don't you ever need time to be alone?" When this happens, I turn to look at my wife. Her makeup, done in precisely the same fashion as my own, begins to smear as the tears well in our eyes, and I know we're imagining the same thing. A world where there's nothing to listen to in the car but a radio. A world where we open the door to an empty house. A world where someone else doesn't raise a fork to our mouth while we do the same to them. A world where we sleep alone.
Yet we share a bed, and we don't sleep alone. In fact, we grow closer every day. It started as a sort of tacky feeling where my left arm met her right, but when we had to unstick it was as easy as separating two pieces of worn-down tape. Then it got more difficult. We felt at times like two large strips of Velcro and even began to sound similar when we peeled ourselves apart, our dry skin crinkling as our bodies fought to maintain contact.
It finally happened this morning. When we woke, we were fused together in the gnarled way an amateur welder joins two pieces of scrap metal. I tried my best to hold her hand, and although that part of us remained divided, our singular wrist limited movement. Instead, I stroked the backs of her fingers with my own and examined our arm. The area where our bodies merged was beautiful and distorted and rough to the touch. It was endearingly ugly, like a plateau tearing through the landscape, imperfect and beige and forever. My wife and I turned to look at one another, the strain on our necks made worse by decades of use, and we smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes.