Violet manages to find her underwear, and clip her bra back on in the dark. She doesn’t want the lights on. She never wants the lights on afterwards. When she sees his face it makes it all too real, and she doesn’t want to deal with the truth.
She knows its fucked up, knows she’s fucked up. She also knows her husband doesn’t deserve what she’s doing to him. But she’s been feeling empty. Violet thinks she’s hollow. There’s nothing left of her inside.
This puts a spark back in her. The heat of the moment, the secrecy, the sneaking around—it’s the most thrill she’s gotten in her two years of marriage, and the thrill isn’t even coming from the man she’s married to.
She’s buzzing when she gets there, and walking from her car to the old brick apartment building takes too long for the need pooling in the pit of her stomach. Looking up and down the block, she makes sure no one she knows can see her walking in, and her skin is burning white hot. By the time she’s knocking on his door, she wants to claw out of herself and be touched, eyes bright and hungry and dangerous. He opens the door, and she’s out of breath—high on the rush.
But then she realizes what she’s done, and her stomach sinks while she redresses herself. The excitement is gone, and she wants to claw out of her own skin for different reasons. Knowing she’s only alive when she’s sleeping with another man sends her head whirling, and she can’t think about it for long.
Violet is a different person when she’s tugging on hair that’s familiar and new all at the same time. Violet is happier when she’s scratching down skin she’s accustomed yet unused to. Violet is better when she’s in bed with someone the same, but different.
She sits on the edge of his bed, arms crossed around her middle, hair hanging in her face. He kisses Violet’s shoulder, and she shudders.
“Do you still think you chose the right one?” He whispers into her skin, and she shoves him away, feeing all the more queasy. It happens every single time.
“Don’t,” she says before she’s pulling her jeans on, and hastily yanking her shirt over her head. When she’s got her shoes and jacket on, he’s rubbing at a pair of eyes that are so blue they should be shocking. But they aren’t—Violet sees those eyes everyday.
She pulls open his bedroom door and the light from the hallway spills in. She doesn’t turn around when he begins to speak, but freezes in the doorway.
“Tell my brother I said hello, will you?”
Violet doesn’t say anything, slamming the door instead.
He waits patiently. He the cold of the winter just past sits in his bones, and lies over his body like a second skin. He imagines a hooded creature, or a black cape. He’s not sure how it happened for the rest of them.
The sun is setting and his back is treating him as if he is much older than his 25 years. His knees creak with days of farming past, walking himself down to the river and back with a bucket in each hand just before daybreak.
His mind is quiet, having only spoken to himself in far too long. His words bounce around in his head until he closes his eyes and forces himself to imagine nothing but the dark.
When his eyes reopen to glance at the foot of his bed, he finds he was right: it’s got a hood.
Somewhere deep inside, there is a feeling of dread. Then he thinks of the empty world around him, with nothing but the cows and chickens to keep him company, and relief spreads instead.
He stares into the deep depth of a faceless mass of robes, and takes a deep breath. He is ready.