for the Worse
by M. Espinosa
You are beautiful and
intelligent and classy. Women your age pay to get laid. He turns towards me,
momentarily taking his hands off the wheel.
The mountain road is steep
with sharp hairpin curves.
Are you telling me to be
grateful for the occasional fuck?
Oh shit, can’t you take a
joke? He presses down on the gas.
I tighten my scarf against
the wind, which is messing my hair as it blows through the open window. He holds
the electronic controls.
Can’t you shut the damned
I need the fresh air, he
We stop in a small mountain
town for cold sodas. A secondhand shop intrigues me. Old jewelry is displayed
We walk inside, and inside
the front counter is an antique silver ring with a gorgeous blue sapphire in
It fits my ring finger
perfectly, as if it were made for me.
I take out a credit card,
pay for it, and wear it out of the shop. I let its energy flow through my body
When we drive back into
Albuquerque with its crowded Central Avenue, it is dusk. We park and go inside
our apartment. It has
been over a month since we had sex.
In his mind I’m an old broad
who is lucky not to have to pay. But then, I am paying. I am his major source
of support. Without me, he’d be on the street.
We get into bed and he turns
his back. He is always so tired at night.
There is no rage like that of a woman scorned.
The ring vibrates through
I go to an herbalist in the
old Mexican district of the City. Each day I pour just a few grains of the
mixture she has prepared into his morning coffee—about an eighth of a teaspoon,
the size of a baby’s fingernail.
That night, in bed, he
caresses my shoulders and breasts. I pretend to be asleep.
Over the months, he grows
But he also looks older.
His erections begin to fail.
A year has passed. I return
from my morning run, prepare his oatmeal, help him to the table, and feed him
spoonfuls of the soft substance. The gray in my hair has vanished. My breasts
no longer sag. My thighs have lost their cellulite. I’ve begun to menstruate
Sometimes I’m late after a
tryst with the new man in my life, and then the poor soul is hungry and anxious
when I return.
Maria Espinosa managed to get expelled from Harvard, and has
of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area. A recent transplant to New Mexico, she feels
that her roots are finally beginning to penetrate the hard, dry desert earth.
Maria has published two several award-winning novels. They include Longing,
Dying Unfinished, Incognito: Journey of a Secret Jew, and an earlier
novel, of which she rarely speaks, Dark Plums, about a
Manhattan prostitute. Since then, she has completed
another novel, not yet published, and has begun a sixth.