A Storyby Joyce Carol Oates
He is saying he remembers what it was like to be married. He is saying he remembers what it was like to be married to her.
“You were my dear wife, I think? Before I got sick.”
Clever Margot Sharpe has restyled her hair: she has brushed the shiny, dark, silver-threaded hair straight back from her forehead, and she has braided a single, narrow strand like a pigtail that falls along the left side of her face, to below her chin. At the university, and at the Institute, this tight-braided pigtail has drawn the attention of admiring eyes—or so Margot would like to think.
E. H. is one of these admirers. E. H. has been staring at Margot, and at the braid, since he has first seen her that morning in the testing room.
“Pretty!”—E. H. has tugged at the braid. He is being playful, or—maybe not.
Margot feels her face heat with a sudden stab of pleasure. It has been some time since anyone has touched her with such a playful sort of intimacy. It has been a very long time since anyone has tugged her hair.
“Are we going to our special place, dear?”
“Yes, Eli. Yes, we are.”