Stories by Brennen Wysong
Two Married Women
My friend tells me he’s been sleeping with a married woman. But that’s only the half of it, since my friend, too, is married. Not that he tells me that part—about his being married. I obviously already know he’s married. I went to his wedding. I was in the wedding party. I toasted my friend and his wife and wished them a long and happy life together at the wedding reception. I don’t mention these facts when my friend tells me he’s been sleeping with a married woman. And what else I don’t mention to him: Because he’s married and sleeping with a married woman, I have to wonder if he’s in fact sleeping with two married women.
I don’t mention this about the two married women either because I don’t believe he’d find it very funny. Not that I find it very funny. But I do find it peculiar—that a man cheating on his wife with a married woman can actually be sleeping with two married women. I suspect I might find it funny if my friend were sleeping with two married women at the same time. Like all in the same bed. All three of them together. All of the sleeping together ending up rather mechanically complicated, especially if the two married women didn’t get along. Or maybe I just find it sad. Yes, sad. Because all I can really envision now is my friend and his bed and all of his desires. I’m not even sure where the two married women are in what I’m envisioning. I mean, shouldn’t they be here? Shouldn’t I at least envision them in bed with my friend? Wouldn’t that almost make it funny? But it’s just my friend and his bed and his desires. And mostly what I’m envisioning are his desires, the bed puny, my friend punier still.
The Most Convincing Christ
The most convincing Christ, I tell my wife, is the one whose right side looks like it’s been chewed by wolves. The most convincing Christ, I tell her, guiding her among the other museum goers, is the one who buckles under the cross but wants his crown of thorns further driven into his brow. This afternoon alone, I’ve described at least five Christs to my wife. I’ve described them to her because she cannot see them herself, her firm arm in mine, fingers reading my wrist. My pulse must creep up in the presence of gore lured across the wan jaw of a Christ rising beneath some anonymous Flemish brush. It must die down when I see a Christ child swaddled among animals in the barnyard of an American Colonial on wood. I don’t even describe this painting to my wife, and we move on across the marble floors, her grip tightening on my wrist. “You’ve fully restored my faith,” she says with a little laugh. “I was blind, but now I see.” High careless voices crack the din generated off the sweeping ceilings of the museum. Children flow briskly around us with their teacher. “Describe them,” my wife says, referring to the children. I tell her they are a barely controlled chaos. I tell her they are a barely controlled chaos with a yen for violent video games. My wife and I have now wandered into a gallery dominated by landscapes from the Hudson River School. There’s rare depth in one of them. When I try to describe it to my wife, I search and search for its vanishing point somewhere beyond a sweeping cliff in a golden glare of sunlight. She’d never seen a sun like this one, but she’s felt it against her face and arms and chest, drowsing her in its warmth. How, I’ve wondered, how would she have known she’d burn so in such a sun without seeing it? I shuffled naked that night through the darkness of our apartment and nestled again her in our bed, the heat still feverishly high inside her. A mild bouquet of aloe filled the room. And I found myself aroused in my wife’s aura of heat, yet knew she hurt terribly to the touch. I guide her now away from the Hudson River landscape, a lame description left in the gallery behind us, my words merely muddling its depth. The next room opens into statues. We can’t even hear the children now. Slipping my wrist from my wife’s grip, I bring her fingers to the rippled torso of Neptune. She lets her hand rest against the stone. The cold, I want to tell her, please find some comfort there in the cold.
Brennen Wysong‘s fiction appeared many years ago in such journals as Story, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and Shenandoah. More recently, he has published poems in both print and online venues, including 42opus, Denver Quarterly, Fourteen Hills, and TYPO. He’s run a hundred miles or more in a single stretch six times, usually in the mountains. Manhattan is his home, where he lives in the Theatre District with his wife, Debra, and son, Calder Birch.
Art by Margarita Korol.