portion of the artwork for Mary Kane's stories

The Reasons
Mary Kane

A woman has a husband though the verb has troubles her. She’s had him, as in been married to him, for a rather long time. It isn’t like having a cat. Or like having zucchini soup for dinner. He’s good looking but he can’t do fractions. He’s an excellent cook and he eats triple-decker sandwiches after dinner. She wonders how she ended up with this particular husband, there being, she imagines, many humans she might have married or lived with without marrying, or had children with, other than this one. It’s a reasonable question, she thinks, how she ended up with this husband. She isn’t romantic, doesn’t believe they were somehow meant for each other, as in stars aligning and whatnot. The man who is the husband prefers to do as much as he can in the dark before dawn. He has a new hip, which he loves. He leaves windows open in winter because he opens them in the dark and then forgets he opened them and can’t see that they are open. He reminds her that Proust’s narrator kept Albertine prisoner, and maybe, his saying suggests, they should therefore rename their cat Albertine, even though their cat is male, since the husband thinks they are keeping the cat prisoner. Some of their friends think they are perfectly suited to each other. Others hit their foreheads with the heel of their hand at the idea of it. Some grimace. Others laugh. Some alternately grimace and laugh and then say, of course, of course. The woman wonders if her choosing this husband had anything to do with her father, whether it had to do with similarities between this man and her father. Their height is about equal. Her father liked mashed potatoes and so does this man. Her father was terrified of snakes, even cartoon snakes. Her husband falls closer to indifferent with regard to snakes but is often on the lookout for a kingfisher. The man she married believes their neighbor, an elderly woman who lives directly across from them, mistook a woman in a winter coat walking on their street for a coyote running across her yard. What happened is, the neighbor called to tell them to make sure their cat was inside. The cat is an indoor cat, though it has escaped on a few occasions, its escapes apparently having been witnessed by the neighbor. The neighbor had just seen a coyote run across her yard, she said, heading towards their place. In response to the neighbor’s call, the woman went looking for the cat and found him asleep on a kitchen chair. The husband, who didn’t bother looking for the cat, said he wasn’t worried. He said he saw a woman on the street in a coat with a fur collar and that was probably what the neighbor saw. She probably saw that and thought it was a coyote, he said.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 57 | Spring/Summer 2021