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Changing

I look at my toes every day now. It is my morning ritual. I know they are whiter at the nail tips. I know the toes are longer. He gets up, pees, and comes to look. He tells me I am imagining things, that my toes are the same as they have always been. He kisses my feet, and he offers to bring in the measuring tape. I refuse. If he is right, then I am going insane, and if he is wrong, then I am changing. Either is unacceptable.
My hair is changing too. I keep it short, close cropped and curly. But it is knotting in the back, and the curl is gone. He says it is just age; he agrees that it has changed. But he says I'm not changing. He loves me. I think he sees the same person he married, all those years ago. I was slim, vibrant, athletic. We danced the limbo at our wedding, bending until it was no longer possible to get under the poles we used from the chuppah.
I am 70; he is 82. For 52 years we have awakened next to each other. For 52 years we have made love every morning. Sometimes our love making has been a simple yet long cuddle, whispering our anticipations of the day to come. Somedays have been morning marathons of passionate sex, of joining to become one impenetrable bundle of love.
They said it would never last. I was 18; he was 30. He's too old for you. You should find someone younger. You need to go to college. He's a no-goodnik with no job.
Fifty-two years of waking and loving and eating and working: he in his shop, creating exquisitely turned pens, pencils, spindles, and bobbins. Me? Writing in my small room with the large window that distracts me with birds and squirrels and cats and moths.
It was a small thing at the time. I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A movement unlike the gamboling of the squirrels or the hover of hummingbirds. It was brown, and it hopped, not unlike a frog. I went out the side door, holding onto the fence, my back screaming "what are you doing woman?" and saw it. It was dark brown, like the color of my hands by mid-summer. It stood upright, looking about my garden, gnawing on a squirrel it had caught.
It wore no clothing and was quite obviously male. However, I also knew it was decidedly alien. He heard my approach, and when I leaned over for a closer look, he bit me. I grabbed him by the hair standing up on the top of his head, swung him about, and cracked his head against the fence post. The shovel was leaning against the side of the house where himself had planted the new rose. I found the strength to grasp it and swat the creature. It hit the fence again and lay there, not moving. I chopped him with the shovel, again and again, until I ran out of steam, and he was a pile of bits and pieces. And when I could, I dug a hole and buried what was left of him.
It looked like nothing more than a bug bite. He hadn't removed any flesh, and there was no swelling. And so, I ignored it.
But now I know I am changing. My toes are longer every day, my hair is knotting, my hands are turning browner than the summer sun accounts for, and my nails are turning white. And I have a strange, deep hunger growing inside me. He says it is my imagination. He still sees the girl he married. I see him. The boy I married; the man to whom I am still married. Fifty-two years of waking up together. And every day he looks and smells more delicious.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
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