As Louise looked at her, with her short-but-not-short, dark-brown hair, and her antelope legs and thighs (the woman must have been at least 6 feet), she remembered what it was like to care about eye contact—or to even consider whether she was reflecting the male gaze at all for that matter; that ass in those jeans though…

The woman wasn’t doing anything spectacular. She was a six-foot branch with no leaves, standing tall, looking at her reflection briefly in the window and then going back to painting the wall. She opened her eyes and looked back accidentally, without much recognition that she even saw Louise at all.

Eye contact-there was a time when eye contact mattered. There was a time when Louise would stare into Erika’s eyes for eternity, a black abyss that had depths of potential, millions of feet under the Earth’s surface. Grounded. Her eyelashes were longer than anything Louise had seen before, and when Erika granted her a requited glance, Louise’s heart would jump or drop or dart or do whatever it is that hearts do in situations like that.

Today, though, after nine years of marriage, disappointments shared over the inability to produce a child, the death of Erika’s parents, the mortgage they recently took on, and of course…lest we forget…the god damn cat that Louise was allergic to (Erika swore she would become immune but that was five years ago and Louise was still waiting to wake up one morning with a clear nose), all Louise could think about was Erika’s. Hot. Ass.

And she wondered, “Has she been doing squats?” because, for the love of God, Louise would have noticed this before…finally, she opened her mouth and spoke to Erika after walking over, taking the paintbrush out of her hand, and putting her hands around her waist,


“So this is who you are.”