34. He and She

She left on his side of the bed: a sweaty bra, underwear (His) tied in a thick knot, and a spongy blood-soaked tampon.

He wrote her: “You win.”

In the old days He and She made fires in a backyard pit and smoked out the neighbors, who gathered on the street for protests.

“We’ll stop, but only if you give up turkey and Christmas trees,” He and She said, conditions to which the neighbors agreed, reluctantly, as this would interrupt a few hundred years of nap time.

The dry weather came. Winters drove everyone into the shadows. It rained in the morning, froze hard in the afternoon, and the pipes burst. Wendy was found at the bottom when the lake started moving again and her mother wandered the streets at night wailing the memory of Wendy’s short life.

Jimmy asked everyone over and He and She found a turkey packed hard and happy in his basement freezer.

“That does it,” She said, and the next night they dug a new pit and built a bonfire and smoked the neighbors out into clouds of insects and the men took Jimmy and hung him in the field by his neck until he shat his pants.

Wendy’s mother wandered at night wailing and drove most people mad. He and She drove home with groceries, livestock, and eggs. He told Her about the desert, how after rain frogs would leap street to street by the bushel and the sun was like a government crack down.

“Well, that’s how hot it was,” he said. “In the desert they say that the difference between men and women is blood and nothing else, not planets or genes or any other variable.”

She extracted a pad from between her legs and said, “Is this proof? Men will never know how this feels.”

“And I’m glad of it. Besides,” he said, “I can do nothing about it.”

“Do you see Wendy’s father on the streets at night? And what about Jimmy? It was the men who hung him from the tree.”

“Wendy’s old man killed himself,” he said. “Don’t you remember? When they raised the car from the muck and found poor Wendy in the front seat with a cell phone in her mouth and the seat strap still on. He killed himself the next day. That’s what I mean.”

She returned after opening His letter. She took a knife and cut her hand and gave him a small puddle of blood as a means for Him to provide unuttered apology. He cupped his palms and accepted the liquid and drank it. “Blood is hot and salty,” He said. “I’m somewhat curious now about your bloody tampons.”

She untied the underwear. He washed His and Hers sweaty workout stuff. They had sex when the moon turned pink. They buried grapefruit and plums and waited for the trees to grow.

The neighbors gathered at the windows like cartoon mice. They watched in at the two, He and She loving one another, doing the laundry, dining by peach-colored candles, digging into one another for secrets with small silver shovels until they hit clay and stone. The neighbors fretted at the perpetual bonfire but no one complained and no one made promises.

Then one day He and She were gone, the house empty. The neighbors crowded to the windows nonetheless, wondering if they should dance, sing, or join Wendy’s mother at night for wailing in the streets.

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