To say that Jim wasn't expecting me would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, when I climbed up the fire escape, squeezed through our bedroom window, and interrupted his snores by giving him a sharp poke in the ribs, my husband's reaction was downright comical. His mouth opened in a big O and he rolled away from me so quickly that he tumbled off the opposite side of the bed, his feet still tangled in the sheets. By the time he finally worked loose and managed to stand up, his mouth retained that speechless O shape as he scurried into the bathroom and slammed the door.
The lock on our bathroom door has been broken since the day we moved into that crummy apartment, so it was no problem to follow him. I found him in the bathtub, straining to raise the tiny window--a window glued permanently shut by untold sloppy applications of paint.
"Honey, you have to get a grip on yourself," I said wearily.
He obediently stopped scrabbling at the window and sank down in the tub, curling into a fetal position, palms pressed over his eyes.
Gosh, did I really look that bad? I glanced in the mirror above our chipped sink, annoyed to discover that the white, button-down-the-front silk gown--who on earth had chosen to dress me in that?--had come undone, exposing part of my midriff and way too much of the ugly autopsy scar. My coiffure wasn't anything to write home about, either. Whoever was in charge of hair styling at the Morton-Granger Mortuary had clearly graduated beauty school circa 1950. The modified beehive, disheveled from a windblown trek through back streets, trailed auburn strands across the bluish tinge of my cheeks.
"Okay, so I'm not a contender for Miss America," I conceded, fumbling with stiffened fingers to re-button my dress. "But I think I look pretty good, considering."