Afterward, she often wanted to spew some ugly drama like your breath stinks or if I have to spend another second with your parents on the golf course or listening to your Spanish guitar or fuck this, let’s split. She wondered how many women (wives, mostly, though there was room in the narrow reaches of her mind for other people) experienced the same desperate urges. She couldn’t be alone. Could she? It wasn’t the sex act, per se; she’d learned how to maneuver herself from between the lathe of her husband’s jaw, clamped by his sloppy insistence, the graceless way he went about things like they belonged to him. A seaside delicacy, he slurped, plucking her meat with a cocktail fork, scraping his teeth along her gritty half-shell.He was endless in his analogies: she was a party balloon he deflated, sucking air; he was a dog and she his water bowl, he lapped away, she bit her tongue, reflex rising at her throat—how did we end up here?—pressure rising like a can of popcorn snakes, a cresting wave, some kind of Tourette’s—I screwed your intern, Fabrice!—she bit down, she drew blood, she took her pleasure. Years passed. There was no denying it. His love inspired her rage. Her problem. Her husband was fine, and this was all her undoing, her reckless need; she could not stop ruining herself with want. Forget Fabrice, his name an air freshener, she mooned over that honey-haired hippie on fellowship in Mozambique, the quiet, landscape painter with the watery eyes she had a beer with once in a hotel bar in Chicago by accident while they each were waiting for other people. He had a wife and baby, two babies, and equally artistic wife, truly talented, he said, leaning into her in a known way that made her blush, as if she was the talented, lactating one and not a withered heap of wasted potential. She paid their tab offhandedly, as if he might get her back next time, as if there might be another time outside the realm of fantasy, in her bed, at night with her husband because surely this phantom stranger was better, more attentive, less arrogant in his take; anyone who called his wife beloved in earnest would not be so crude in his seduction, now would he. Would he? Treat her like a bayside barnacle in a chainmail grip. She believed her own bullshit: another might crack her clean, split her open in a way she did not know, but could imagine, imagination being all she had, one beer and a glance, enough to conjure another life, another man, another inseminating style. Her husband kept his socks on. She ground her jaw, emitting a low growl as he pinned her and pumped, pinching the flaps of her skin, she should lift weights before those arms become wingy, before it’s too late, five pounds and it’s curtains for you. “Do you like it?” he asked, and she nearly answered, “what’s to like?” She pictured the terrific fall-out from the word Go! How glorious it would be, spectacular, like backyard fireworks crashing into neighborhood homes set too close, drastically close, her world spinning out, every action has a reaction, money, and property, and Consequences, Claire. She’d been called heartless before. Earlier, at the restaurant, Brazilian newlyweds sat in the corner feasting on chicken hearts like that might sustain them, good luck and God bless, while she nibbled her mustard greens, recalling the college boyfriend who predicted she’d die alone. If only there were an easier way. Maybe she was incapable of love, maybe love itself was a figment, but in moments like these, she allowed herself the possibility. Her artist plucked apricots from African fruit trees, fed plump, stone flesh to his family, nectar streaming down wrists they caught with their tongues. Her husband thrust once and smacked her thigh. She plugged herself with tissue and took to the toilet, his back welcoming her return: round, hulking, covered in fur. “That was great, babe.” His voice already groggy, drifting. The room swelled with their smell as she curled into him. Shut the light.