But for one thing, the man and his girlfriend
wanted the same things. On the one thing, he tried to sway her. "Think of
the lack of sleep," he said. "Think of the diapers. Do you really want
anyone to need you that much?" But the woman was unmoved. She said, "Don't
exaggerate." As the years passed, she grew despondent. Sometimes she hit
the man. At other times she cried. It's funny how someone you love can transform
over time and yet you're too close too see it. One day, as he watched his girlfriend
crawling around on the floor, the man realized she had become someone utterly
different from the person with whom he'd fallen in love. Everything about her
had changed. Her body had shortened and rounded to an almost unrecognizable degree.
She wore terry-cloth bodysuits. She garbled words and didn't bathe herself. She
ate mashed peas. Most heartbreaking of all, she had managed, as if by some kind
of magic depilatory device, to become completely bald.
After a particularly embarrassing dinner with friends
during which she had spit up on his shirt, he confronted her. "Look,"
he said, "Can't we discuss this like adults?" Instead of answering,
she threw a bowl on the floor, spattering day-old peas. When he looked
up, she grinned at him, toothless, ecstatic. It was too much. Scooping
her into his arms, he ran from their building, through the darkened
streets to the park. As he searched among the leafy paths for a place
to leave her, he became aware of the small, if somewhat smelly, warmth
of his girlfriend snuggled against his chest. He sobbed, fighting the
urge to rub his nose on her scalp and kiss her with loud, wet smacks.
As his tears fell on her head, she gazed up at him wide-eyed. Pure,
unadulterated trust was staring him in the face. He gazed back. It was
the beginning of a great love affair.
© Gina Zucker