A Type of Vertigo

For many years she was in that village in the form of a wife, an unloving wife, and things could not have been improved upon.

How is her husband by the way? Did he actually have a stroke? No, it was just a type of vertigo.

They used to be so close. He knew everything about her.

His brother had two strokes.

The wife is ashamed of herself.

For how long did her bad behaviour go on? – for a time, for some time, perhaps from that time on.

How does this end? – with bits of cake falling from her mouth, into her lap and being brushed by her onto the floor – and then it ends also with her chatter as she further cuts and chips at the man, her husband, whose name is Will.

The weather. It was perfect and the road from her house to the centre of the typical town she lives in curves and descends, lined with hawthorn and poplars, and in spring there are the lilac hedges in bloom.

What else can one see? – a downpour, the rain’s beauties, the bits of the wife’s butter cake waste on the kitchen floor, not painful to witness, but worms are in peril on pavers after the rain, near the mailbox where some birds or the hot sun might get to kill them. The worms had come up above ground for air.

What else? – no, nothing else – for this brief tour has concluded.

And, it has not been obvious to this twosome to know how or by what means, after which precedent, or to what degree – to be the best sort of spouse. Yet in another town several miles off, in a high-lying region, other stories of intimacy are, of course, proceeding.

And during a recent sunny day in that town – platforms had been erected, framed by booths, for a street fair that a married pair attended where they bought a small ceramic bowl ‘Made by Marta.’

Marta is an expressive human who has a grainy ochre body. She presides over bowls and pitchers and platters that feature a splashed and striped decoration. More often than not, Marta gestures and speaks playfully.

Hers is a history that is ancient and fundamental, not like some, like mine, which is – Please leave me alone so I can just be pretty.

And will there be anything else, Madame?

Diane Williams is the founder and editor of the literary annual NOON. Her Collected Stories is available in paperback from Soho Press. Her next book of stories: How High? -- That High is due out from Soho in late 2021.

Sex Negative

August, 2020

On pessimism in two essays, two stories and four poems. Featuring illustrations by John Slade/HYT Studio. The print edition includes contributions by Stoya, Sasha Bonét, Sam Riviere, Lara Mimosa Montes and Wayne Koestenbaum.

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