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Excerpts from the forthcoming Oology

Laura Rosenthal


Drained

My wife said it would be like with the dog, how months later I would still find her hair everywhere—but all year I combed the couch, ran my toes through the fibers of the carpet, checked inside sweatshirt hoods, examined the sticky spot on the kitchen floor—and I couldn’t find a single strand. Not until the plumber came to relieve the tub of the water growing murky in its basin, and from the pipe he extracted a small, wet hamster of hair, almost pulsing, like maybe it would breathe.



Desert

We hiked three July days in the Negev. When we found the oasis, we were almost unrecognizable, burned sienna, coated in dust. He peeled off my spandex, revealed pale, protected thighs. We lowered ourselves into warm water.

The infection festered slowly. A crater the size of a thumbprint, raw in the center of his forehead, surfaced only when we returned home. The mark of a sand fly’s kiss. “Where’s yours?” he wanted to know. He touched his lips to the spot on my clear skin where I should have suffered, too.

His wound didn’t heal for over a year. I heard you could still see the scab at his wedding. The photographer edited the photos: when they look back, his wife will find him unblemished.





87


His children sing him “Happy Birthday,” present a cake aglow with candles. They encourage him to blow them out before purple wax melts into the frosting. In the years when they were young, he would astound them by conjuring a great gust of wind, darkening the room in a single, magnificent breath. Now, it will take him twenty minutes and a hundred painful puffs, like the ones the doctor makes him perform on the spirometer each week.

But there is another way. He lifts the glass top of the platter, makes his wish as he covers the cake. The candles suffocate simultaneously. It is a quick, merciful extinguishing of flames.

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