Dawn Abeita

Dawn Abeita
Dawn Abeita has published in American Fiction, Fiction Weekly and The Potomac. She earned an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and has been a fellow at the The MacDowell Colony and Vermont Studio Center. She lives, writes, and teaches in Atlanta, Georgia.

Peony Kller

"They looked like weeds," is what he says and he laughs when you curse at him. He laughs because he knows that you know mowing down the peonies was an accident, and they do look like weeds this late in the summer, and that anyway they'll come back in the spring to bounce all fluffy and white and pink tipped like the breasts of a teenager and that's what bothers you. You think there is no romance left because everything he does irritates you. He kisses like a monkey—all lip and slobber. You can't stand it. He says, "So, Circe, turn me into the pig that I am. I'm sorry." You think it is probably unwise for classics scholars to marry each other.

You say that your mother called and she has the flu, and you're going to go stay with her until she's better, and you do go to your mother's. While you're there, you start hanging out in a bar popular in high school, and there you run into the girl who was your best friend back then until she stole your boyfriend because you wouldn't let him feel you up and she would. Turns out she never had any kids at all, so at least you have that in common. And it turns out that her husband looks like Antonio Banderas but doesn't have an accent.

"Did you sleep with him on the first date?" you ask her, which is pretty petty and injudicious of you, though she doesn't seem to notice.

"No," she says. "I always play hard-to-get with the good ones."

Her not noticing seems permanent and makes you think that you have a chance here and soon enough you do. Mr. Antonio doesn't thrill you though. He has heavy hands that rake your breasts while the two of you lie in your childhood bed with your mother asleep and mostly deaf below. Mr. Antonio likes his sex and takes it how he likes it, which isn't the same as a man who likes women and wants to know and please them. Lying under him you think that the perfect present for him would be a heated blow-up doll with real hair.

Antonio says that he suspects that his wife is cheating on him with someone she works with at the bank. So, while this is exploratory and unearned revenge for you, for him it's just revenge. You do like his hair, though. You comb your hands through its silky length over and over while he snores with his head on your breast. He doesn't drool, which you think is unexpected, considering. Eventually he wakes and takes to the nipple like a hungry baby. In for a penny, in for a pound.

You leave the next day to go home because you don't want complications. You can't remember if you told either of them where you live or what your married name is. Hurray. Your husband is in the kitchen when you get home, with an apron on, making something special for your return. His salt-and peppering hair is a mess as if he can't be bothered to comb it if you aren't there to look at it. This touches you, so you hug him. He puts his face in your neck. He kisses gently there. He says you are his Cassandra. No, you assure him. No, you return his love. More like Penelope the faithful one, you say, which is now the lie that you love.