Section O

Oren is a big man, a fisherman with women tattooed up and down his arms. He is captain of the M42 and doesn’t trust his boatswain, though the boatswain is his own father. His father is a notorious gambler, like your true love, and maybe this is why you’re so willing to forgive Oren, who is notorious in other ways. We all have our faults.

You shouldn’t trust me either, Oren says to you. It’s the middle of the night and you’re still pretty drunk and all you can think of is glass paperweights with girls tumbling around inside and when Oren says this, you say, Shouldn’t I? without once thinking of what you saw the other day: him at the kitchen counter, you about to sneak up and surprise him with a kiss until he turned a little and you saw your middle daughter, the beautiful one like Venus on the half-shell, all pony hair and doe eyes. Saw her trapped between Oren and the counter. Saw her flush-red cheeks and lips, which made you think of Snow White, of death, and instead of going in there and asking what the hell was going on, you hid in the living room. (No, sweets, I wasn’t looking away. This is what you did, and even though your daughter didn’t see you that night, she knows you should’ve been there for her.) You caught your breath and pretended to enter the house a second time. Louder. So there could be no mistake.

No, you shouldn’t, Oren says, and he kisses you on the nose. He kisses the paper soft skin of your eyelids and your cheeks, which are warm now. He kisses your collarbone and bites a little in that way that makes your head roll back. You’re in love with this man, aren’t you? I can see it in your eyes. No, closing your eyes doesn’t make it any less obvious.

Do you love this man more than your daughters? Go to section P.

Do you love this man enough to let him spend another night? Go to section P.