The summer I had an affair with James Joyce you would not forgive me. When you came home and found me in bed with Ulysses, you made your decision. You took up with the Ukrainian girl at work but you two never really did anything. Except for share everything. You even went to the hospital when she was having her baby, and I imagined you pretending it was yours although we already had a baby of our own. That’s how much you liked fatherhood, enough to stand in a maternity ward so you could catch life right as it was landing. Tiny feet and hands. All that trust. All that risk. And I stayed in Dublin, reading under the chilly sheets of our bed, confused by that scene in the hospital when they’re waiting for Mrs. Purefoy to have her baby. The pages of the book fell like walls around me. Sometimes I think Joyce is being obscure, trying to evade us, and other times I think we are guilty of hounding him. I kept chasing after Bloom because he seemed to know what to do. You had already gone to talk to a therapist but you would not speak to me.
I found you later, heading home, all alone. I grabbed your hand and begged you to escape with me. Tell no one, I said. They won’t understand. The trouble is, language no longer trusts us. Maybe we can solve this problem before the baby’s first word.
You kissed me.
We loaded the stroller with essential texts and left before dark.
About the Author: Jan Stinchcomb lives in California with her husband and children. Her stories have appeared in many places and are known to pop out unexpectedly. You can find her at http://www.janstinchcomb.com or on Twitter @janstinchcomb.