Fifteen-year-old Jim was first initiated into the raptures of love after fixing a married woman's flat in a 7-11 parking lot.
There is a narrowness to him, his nose is like a slash of ice, thinks Penny. In the taut flesh housing the numerous delicate bones of Jim, however, Penny discovers there is vigor and hot solace. She dreams of him every night.
Don't do it again, she thinks, snap out of it.
Jim's beauty only exacerbates the ambivalence, the sadness with which she contemplates her husband, Tim. Tim who never fails to complain about the bill in the expensive, stylish restaurants he nonetheless insists they frequent. The exorbitantly priced dinners are hardly tasted by Penny anyway, effaced by recollections of the simple, pretty kindnesses of Jim. Jim with lashes like a stripper, who reverently indulged her. The hairy-backed Tim, on the other hand, himself resembling a horsefly, called her a flytrap.
Her husband Tim was the undermining friend, the giver of the backhanded compliment ('you look good for your age'; 'for a little guy you're pretty strong'). There were many counts against him. Yet many of his fetishes were perfectly compatible with hers, from the 'hole in the sheet' method to the 'witch on fire,' the 'child bride' to 'poison palace intrigue.'
They went to other cities on their trips. She would have liked to visit the countryside on their vacations, but didn't have the energy to fight him on it&mdash he didn't like the color green. Nature was boring, and furthermore mountains gave him vertigo, he claimed, which wasn't true. He was not the dizzy type. He would not have admitted to his real discomfort, even if he had been conscious of it, that vibrating, open swathes of land—desert, forest or sea—gave him a disagreeable sensation of non-existence.
Upon finding her staring at Jim, the cashier at 7-11, where they stopped one day for aspirin, Tim snorted scornfully, and his back spread out like a parachute. He placed his arm possessively around her and she trembled at his touch despite herself.
Pleasure, she thought, is not the same as happiness.
The married woman's head hung, her hair curled and swung, like old ivy.