Section C

Your bedroom is attached to the kitchen by a hollow core door. You see the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and choose to leave them there another hour, another night. In your room, you undress and look at yourself in the mirror and then immediately wish you hadn’t—whose breasts are these, that drape down your ribcage? Surely, not yours—so you hang a scarf over the mirror and light a cigarette, which you pinch between your lips as you sift through your lingerie drawer until you find the satin black thing Oren likes, and put this on. You slip a red kimono over your shoulders and cinch it tightly around your waist. You sit up in bed with your ashtray and wait for Oren to come home from the sea.

He will smell like brine and pickled herring and he will want to take a shower for you, but you’ll refuse, saying something desperately sexy about needing him now. You’ll pull him into bed and pin him down before he’s even taken off his waders. This has worked for you before, hasn’t it? (Has it? This has been your M.O. since you were sixteen, since your first boyfriend asked if you were ready and you lied and said yes. It was easier to go fast, but was it better? For him, maybe, but for you? Be honest. No one’s listening but us.)

I know what you’re thinking.You think that having sex means love means finding what you lost all those years ago when your true love, the father to your girls, disappeared. But, my girl, this just isn’t true, and you know it.

Still, you wait for two hours. You read the old issues of Cosmo that you keep stacked by your bed. You twist the cap off a bottle of cheap red wine and pour some into a mug on your nightstand, still ringed with residue from last night’s nightcap. Halfway through the bottle, you hear the front door open and close and think it’s Oren. You close your eyes against the image of him in the kitchen with your daughter and think instead of the salt and bristle of his skin against yours. You need this man to love you, though deep down you know this kind of love won’t fix anything.

But it’s not Oren. The girls have come home from the movie, or wherever they were, and they fill your house with girl-sounds.

Do you leave your bedroom to visit with your girls? Go to section D.

Or do you remain in your bedroom, feigning sleep, even when your youngest daughter knocks on your door? Go to section E.