Bull and Trout
My wife Maya and I agree on all the big issues. Recycling. Food. Films. Politics, local and global. I don’t touch her neck. She doesn’t muss my thinning hair. Maya’s a Taurus. Inside of her dwells a bull, slow breathing and warm. I am Pisces, the fish.
We’re castoffs, you see. Her ex, Leon, works as a gardener in our complex. Mine? Well, the short answer is that my ex, my only, is Maya.
I unwrap the packaging, pull the plastic wand from its box. I tuck one chestnut curl behind Maya’s ear. She shuts the bathroom door behind her.
Our remarkable marriage depends on a singular betrayal never coming to light. My vasectomy, last year. I’ve seen others in our set after breeding. Left bloated and dazed and bitter. I have witnessed those husbands and wives at the zoo, like business partners splitting distasteful tasks. I’ve seen the resentful looks. Heard them keeping score.
Hence, the betrayal. A year back, I visited Dr. Zellner, three towns over. Then I was done.
Men’s voices drift from the side yard. Leon and a helper, come to haul away the mountain of branches from our side yard. Their radio emits a tinny, bouncy tune. We’ve lost our favorite tree, an ornamental plum. The victim of a blight from inside. Its branches used to fill our front window so prettily, like a painting. Where Maya always sat with her book when Leon came each Wednesday to blow and water. I get it. He’s kept in shape.
“A new vista,” I hear Leon pronounce from outside.
The bathroom doorway widens and Maya emerges. “It’s not happening,” she says. I drop to my knees and press my cheek to her womb. I feel my beloved breathe, picture steam rising in a meadow. The steadfast bull dips a curly head to the flickering trout.
“It’s a whole new vista,” I tell her. It really is bright without that tree. Maya stares out the window. Leon and his helper are lifting themselves into the truck.
When Maya and I were in grade school, we were inseparable. Same height; same haircut. Every day, we split our lunch down the middle. Two apple halves. Two triangles of PBJ.
I have a memory: us hugging each other tight on the blacktop. If we could only lift each other at the same moment, she’d said excitedly. Then we’d be airborne. Untouchable.
Patricia Q. Bidar hails from the Port of Los Angeles region; she currently lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an alum of the UC Davis Graduate Writers Program and a former fiction editor at Northwest Review. Patricia’s stories have appeared, or are forthcoming in Little Patuxent Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Sou’wester, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, and Pithead Chapel. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee and three-time Best Small Fictions 2020 nominee. Apart from fiction, Patricia ghostwrites for social service and other nonprofit organizations. She tweets at @patriciabidar.
Steven John – Special Features & Fiction Editor