In the end, Lindas injustice, in falsely accusing a
hardware store owner of overcharging, was the cause of her death. So certain
was she that the proprietor had given her a different tier of pricing, because
of her poor French, that she had tried to draw attention to his wrongdoing by
speaking of the alleged crime out loud.
All she had accomplished, though, was to embarrass an innocent
man. He shouted at her. In response, she ran into the street and hailed a cab.
That cab, in turn, brought Linda to the party where she met Jeremiah. Jeremiah
became the first boy Linda brought home.
Tabatha was incredibly surprised when Jeremiah stayed for the
night. Tabathas roommate, prior, had been as innocuous as chewed gum. Up
until Jeremiahs arrival, before dates, Linda usually stood in the center
of her and Tabathas shared studio apartment ironing jeans or pulling
imaginary threads from sweaters. Tabatha believed that in Lindas mind
men were fathers and grandfathers and peers were little
boys. Linda seemed to know nothing about intimacies.
As Linda rubbed her beaus back, Tabatha shot fresh, dirty
looks at the couple. Loudly, Tabatha banged her overnight bag as she made her
way out of the apartment. Tabatha had expected her roommate to remain the
pliable young woman who would have to take frequent exits, not vice versa.
Meek Linda, ironically, was the one, among the two young women,
who was acquainted with how to touch people in helpful ways. She could unknot a
shoulder, take the strain from a neck, or release a leg cramp. Jeremiah, whom
Linda had found in a corner of the party hosts veranda, moaning over a
work injury, was better soothed by five minutes of Lindas administrations
than by months of naturopath visits. Additionally, Lindas voice sounded
Subsequently, Jeremiah proposed that Linda apply her skills to
more private of his physical needs. Linda agreed, having detected affection in
his attempt to seduce.
Paradoxically, whereas Jeremiah had intended only sex and Linda
had hoped for a boyfriend, within days of making each others
acquaintance, the urban herdboy was convinced that he had found his wife and
the intuitive healer was ready to run for the hills.
To Jeremy, Lindas fingers were as honest as were the
syllables in his rap. Her eyes were as profound as were his longings for fresh
canvas. All that remained, in his mind, to ensuring that he be able to obtain a
lifetime of bliss was convincing his girl (and her parents) that they should
Jeremiah pulled out a tattered reefer cigarette. He puffed as
Linda stroked. Though Linda refused his habit, except for what she inhaled
second hand, he felt no anger; he would glisten from the loveliness of the herb
whether or not she imbibed.
Similarly, Jeremiah experienced no resentment over the swanky
address of Lindas family. Jeremiah was good with the Sheppard puppies he
bred and with the vegetable trucks he unloaded. Linda could have college as
long as he could have Linda.
Linda, on the other hand, struggled to accept that her parents
had let alone in their parlor with a young man who was as perky as she was
dolorous. Unbelievably, they trusted her in isolation with a fellow who overfed
his friends on stuffed jalapenos and who insisted that the tastiest spritzers
were concocted from dry, white wine and Dr. Pepper. Furthermore, he sold, for
profit, entire litters of tiny, spiny mammals, and he earned good money working
overtime among eggplants.
Although her massage sufficed to keep his limbs in order and
although she daily made Jeremiah neat, crustless sandwiches, Linda had a poor
understanding of why they were an excellent twosome. Couldnt her parents
see that she had stopped wearing exciting accessories such as blue
mascara, hand-painted tights, and two inch heels?
Devoid of parental guidance, Linda found herself flying, that
summer, to Canada for a waitressing job. Her childs father
enrolled in night school; suddenly, an engineering degree had become very
attractive to Jeremiah.
A short time afterward, the still toking Jeremy met Linda at the
airport with a stone-encrusted ring. Theirs was a quiet ceremony.
Thereafter, when not occupied with work or with studies,
Jeremiah attended to his lady love. Though she manipulated the locked portions
of his limbs less frequently than before, he invested more time into wooing
her. He lasered mundane greetings onto their bedroom wall and tucked
sentimental notes into the bouquets of reduced price flowers he brought home.
Whats more, he began to share with Linda witticisms, which he considered
uplifting, such as an affordable education at a good school makes for a
better college experience than does a financially-stressing education at an
excellent school, or such as a humble wife, from a good family
makes for a better spouse than an arrogant wife from the wrong side of the
When they were at last able to afford a one bedroom apartment,
Jeremy built an insulated hibernaculum on its patio and purchased additional
varieties of hedgehogs. He meant to be able to afford fine things for his wife.
Spouses tame each others awkward habits was
the axioms that broke her, however.
Contrary to Jeremys saliva-driven displays of
obsequiousness, Linda felt disconnected. It was not so much that she required
more exacting forms of worship but that she believed her husband hadnt a
For instance, just before Jeremy had impregnated her, Linda had
experienced a wonderful kiss. She had mashed lips with the captain of her
colleges debate team. That caress of faces, wicked, yet scrumptious, had
channeled from Linda all manners of pent frustration. The first was also the
last kiss, though for that varsity squad nerd had wanted more.
As soon as he tried to grope Jeremys girl, Linda had
bitten him and had kneed him where it counts. Rumor spread that her attack
permanently compromised one of his testicles. Whereas by the time Linda wed
Jeremiah, that contender had been reduced to historical fiction. It was also
the case that throughout Jeremy detected nothing; he remained either
trustworthy or dense or both.
Worse, Jeremiah failed to realize that Linda loathed him for his
gift of driving. She hated getting behind a wheel and hated, even more, feeling
good that she could. Before the advent of Jeremy, Linda was a content
underachiever. For twenty plus years, her parents and siblings had bestowed the
relatively safe role of scapegoat on her. In less than twenty months, Jeremy
was insisting that she give it back. Had Jeremy not been so reverential, she
would have died in happy denial.
More dreadful still was that Jeremy was adamant that they sleep
without cloths because he wanted constant access to her skin. Unlike
Lindas mother, who called her Chicken Legs, her sister and
brother, who called her The Frump, or her father who only called
her when he wanted her to pass him a cold beer, Jeremy acclaimed Linda. When he
came home late from work or school and found his beloved asleep in an old,
flannel gown, he roared.
Linda tried infusing patience into her wifely duties. She read
books about marital harmony, and tuned into shows focused on the need to share
responsibility in relationships. To Tabatha, Linda admitted releasing a certain
level of meticulousness in housekeeping.
She expressed, as well, to that dear friend, her frustration
with Jeremys disinterest in shopping except for when he needed pencils of
hedgehog food. She said nothing to her former roommate, however, of how hard it
was for her to accept an adoring spouse.
Tabatha suggested mediation classes, mountain biking, taking on
a lover, or all three. Linda joined a Yoga for Mommies course, as she was
pregnant again, pedaled on a stationary bike at a nearby gym, and allowed her
lust to find its fulfillment in her surreptitious stash of beefy movie star
She found additional ways, as well, before the liver disease
caught her, to morph into a virtuous wife. She trimmed Jeremys toenails
for him, shopped for their babys layette by herself, and began to replace
her pantry full of French cookery seasonings with items which accommodated high
fiber, low fat dishes. Also, on Jeremys next birthday, she wore only a
ribboned chocker to bed.
Nonetheless, during her third trimester, Linda developed
gestational diabetes. Shortly after birthing their daughter, Linda scored
poorly on several enzyme tests. When the course of methotrexate, which her
doctor prescribed, counterindicated breastfeeding, Jeremy added midnight
bottles to his rooster of helpfulness.
Despite the mindful management of her case, including,
ultimately, parenteral feeding, Linda continued to sicken. Her face became
jaundiced. Her arms, legs and trunk turned yellow. Her stool changed to yellow,
as did her sweat and tears. Too soon, her care providers suggested she talk to
clergy. Lindas liver disease was looking increasingly atypical.
Her hepatic challenges ended one of the days when her parents
were watching their daughter and when Jeremy was taking finals. Linda
instigated her own solution by locking herself a freezer at Benton and Son's
The local university granted Jeremy an extension on his finals.
Lindas parents took over guardianship of Linda and Jeremys
daughter. Tabatha married a man twenty years her senior. The hedgehogs
continued to multiply.