She woke up and couldn’t open her eyes. It wasn’t just her hangover, which felt tectonic—she could feel new mountain ranges and ocean trenches crumpling her skull. There was also a presence in the bed, a black hole distending the universe of her mattress. She heard his amphibian breath; she felt his humidity. Her heart flattened as her memories of last night cooled and found their orbit.
She thought she’d made it this time. She thought she’d found someone else, someone who made her laugh and didn’t embarrass her at parties, someone with a heart as big as hers once was. She’d had suitors over the years; she’d flirted with some, given others the cold shoulder—but this one was different. She’d thought for a moment that they might have a future together. Even if she was on the rebound, so what? It was the same last time, and here she was, eight years later. She was finally feeling good about herself; she thought she’d had the strength to get out.
But he’d been wooing her again for six long weeks, buying her pretty things, making all the old promises. He’d cut down forests for her; he’d build her a fortress. There was heady talk of interest rates—he’d seduced her all over again with his deep, resonant voice; he’d swooped down and taken her in his arms and given her about a thousand margaritas. He’d worn her down. She knew it was wrong, but she felt her strength ebbing, and at last she thought to herself:
I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
But now she felt a darkness in every corner of her body; and she opened her eyes to let the light in but all she saw was him: he was squatting at the corner of the bed, and he was happy to see her… he’d been a bit listless recently, but success hadn’t just gone to his head.
“Ah, you’re awake,” he said. “Good. We might only have three more years of this, so let’s get on with it, eh?”
There was nothing she could do. This wasn’t Las Vegas, after all. It was much worse. Three more years, and all she could do was lie back and think of… well, of herself, she supposed.