by Bruce Holland Rogers
Nothing was wrong in that department, at least he didn't think so. They were both adults, understood that there was the world of books and movies, and then there was real life and its real and ordinary pleasures. Still.
They didn't open the box on the night of their anniversary. Indeed, she never acknowledged that it was sitting there, next to the reading light and the massage oils. If he had really wanted to raise the issue, he could have said something, or just opened the box. Instead, the box gathered dust.
Maybe, he thought, this was a sign of just how all right things really were. Not that they didn't fumble sometimes. Not that bodies, weights, angles, bedclothes, moods, pregnancies, day care and work schedules didn't make things awkward now and then. Maybe he was waiting for her to open the box when she thought he should be the one to open it. Maybe she didn't think about it at all. By then, the box was on a top shelf in the closet.
One night, a month after their youngest had gone to college and the house was too quiet, he suggested that they go for a drive. Turning into the parking lot of the sex shop, though, was her idea. He followed her as she strode through the aisles of engorged and taut and sleek and slippery to the back of the store. She picked up a box from the shelf and with an embarrassed grin, read for him the list of ingredients: how it would be for her, how many times, then how it would be for him. Such a performance!
"Whatever happened to simultaneous orgasm?" he said, and a clerk working in the next aisle said, "We haven't sold those for years."
They took it home, the new box. But they didn't open it. Just walking through the store and reading the ingredients had been inspiring, though the truth is that together he and his wife weren't exactly a good example of anything sold in stores.
The two boxes sit side by side in the closet now. Every so often, he rediscovers them. The labels are printed in colors that are out of fashion, almost quaint. If these boxes are never opened, they'll be part of his and his wife's legacy one day. What will the children make of them? Will they even consider that such things might, in time, come to be valued as antiques?
All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2013 by its authors.
Bruce Holland Rogers lives in London and teaches fiction writing at the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program.
Read the interview.
Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly on an as-needed basis.
|Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor|