He was leaving her after eleven years. Eleven. Twelve. It was hard to tell without
doing the math. She was thinking it was more like twelve when suddenly he got
up from the ball and trudged into the kitchen in his purple slippers. “You
want some milk?” he asked. She said no. She sat on the ball. “Some
Oreo cookies on the shelf to go with your milk,” she said. He loved them;
they were his favorite cookies. He came back with a tray of cookies and a glass
of milk. He stared at her. She was bouncing on the ball at a steady pace, appearing
to be one with the ball. Only a month ago they had ordered this ball together,
won over by an infomercial that featured a sexy celebrity constantly draped
over the ball, buttocks in the air. They both liked the ball. It was his relaxing
tool; it was her toy. It was not, however, used for exercise. They didn’t
bother to open the workout DVD that came with it, for they just wanted to enjoy
the ball for what it was.
She spoke now because she was on the ball. She knew this would be her last chance
to change his mind. She had always strived for the impossible, and always failed.
But each time she believed she would succeed. This time was no different. She
believed in now. “While you were gone, I had a dream.” She was beginning
the impossible. She knew it would work even though it never did in the past.
She bounced harder, hoping to excite him as well. The dream was not made up.
This time she was aiming for the impossible without cheating. “Oh” was
his response. She paused and wondered if she had missed the question mark or
if it was an uninterested response. “Will you listen to my dream?” she
finally asked. He sighed and looked at the clock. “I don’t have
much time,” he said, but eyed her meaningfully, almost tenderly. He also
scratched his head and drank his milk. He put a whole cookie in his mouth without
first dunking it into the milk. “There’s something in it, something,” she
said. “Where?” he asked, suddenly frightened. “In your milk.” There
was a long strand of hair— hers—in the glass he was holding. He
pulled it out and drops of milk fell to his knees. “It’s sort of
like that—unexpected yet predictable,” she said. He told her she
could tell him her dream. She slid off the ball and began to tell him, almost
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