for his penis, too restful maybe . . . she leaned over
and blew on the nest and got things going again.
And afterward . . . well, this woman had come
late to passion and had not yet learned restraint.
“Do you love Ghiselle the grand dame or Ghiselle
“I love you, Alice.”
“I do.” He loved Ghiselle too, but he didn’t bur-
den Alice with that information. He had come to
believe that monogamy
was unnatural. He would
like to practice polygamy,
bigamy at least, but Ghis-
elle would run o= to
Paris, taking the girls . . .
“Oh, Richard,” Alice
was lovingly sighing.
Then there was silence,
and the room that had seemed so steamy grew
cool like a forest brook, and she was as happy as
she had ever been. They lay side by side in that
“So you’ll leave her,” Alice ventured after a while.
“ . . . No.”
“No!” She sat up. “You are going to stay with
“She is not a bitch. We’re a bit of a misalliance,
that’s all, fire and steel you might say.”
“Misalliance? A disaster!”
He kissed her left nipple, and the right, and the
navel; and if she’d had any sense she would have
dropped the argument and lain down again. In-
stead, “You’re going to stay with her for the sake of
the children instead of divorcing her for the sake
of yourself. And for the sake of me,” she cried.
“But Richard. Children survive this sort of thing.
Sometimes I think they expect it. I’ve noticed at
the bat mitzvahs I get invited to, and I get invited
to them all, the girls with two sets of parents and
a colony of half-sibs — they’re the snappiest. Rich-
ard, come live with me, come live with me and be
my—” He covered her mouth with his. “We be-
long together,” she said when she got her breath,
and he did it again. “You are practicing probity,”
she said, and this time he didn’t interrupt her.
“You are a prig!” She began to sob in earnest. He
held her until the sobs grew less frequent, and
THERE WAS EMILY,
PLASTERED LENGTHWISE TO
A TREE LIKE A COLONY OF
they lay down again, and she fell asleep, and he
held her for some time after that.
At five o’clock he woke her. Bleakly they dressed,
back to back. Richard put on the clothes he’d folded
earlier; Alice pulled on jeans and a wedgewood
sweater. Then they turned. Her cheekbone touched
his jaw. We’ll meet again. Richard left by the back
door, walking carefully because the rain had made
the earth slick. The air was cold now. Alice, standing at the doorway, crossed her arms in front of her
waist and cupped her elbows in her hands. Women
have worried in that position for centuries. She
watched her lover make his slippery way toward the
bottom of the ravine. Maybe Paolo da Sola would
marry her. She could raise his salary.
Emily was now standing on Alice’s side of the
ravine not far from Alice’s house. She leaned
against a birch. She had just left the library where
she had been reading about ants’ circles of death.
Sometimes ants, for no apparent reason, form a
spiral and run in it continuously until they die
of exhaustion. What kind of behavior was that
from so evolved a creature? Oh, she had much
to figure out. But at the moment all she wanted
to do was watch her father behaving like a boy.
If he sprained an ankle it would put a crimp in
his love life. Too bad he didn’t have six ankles.
But with only two he did manage to leap over
the little creek at the bottom of the ravine, land
without incident, and start to climb the far side.
He did not look up over his right shoulder or he
would have seen Alice standing in her doorway,
and he did not look up over his left shoulder or
he would have seen Emily and her tree; he looked
straight ahead through those binocular eyes embedded in his skull. Emily herself had compound
eyes, at least some of the time—the images she
saw were combined from numerous ommatidia,
eye units, located on the surface of the orb. These
eye units, when things were working right, all
pointed in slightly di=erent directions. In a mirror she saw multiple Emilys, all of them bulging,
all of them gross.
Alice wrenched her gaze from Richard’s climbing form and looked sideways and saw Emily,
aslant against a white tree, spying on her father.
She was covered in a black, helmeted carapace.
She looked as if she had attached herself to the