restricted access Every Weekend the Willises Go Away

From: Sexes

Northwestern University Press colophon
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14 Every Weekend the Willises Go Away Fingering her breasts for trouble, she hears him say, “I’ve yet to find out who I am.” “You’re Willis Willis, husband mine, and I’m your lawful bedded wife.” “Is Phyllis Willis who you really are?” “The rhyme’s a bummer, but at least we match.” Without another word he dons his rainbow Reebok running shoes and jogs his daily dozen miles alone. Later when she gives herself to him reluctantly, she keeps on chewing popcorn and tells him to be quick. Next day, leaving the Pekingese to sit the house, they pack the Jeep and head for the mountains. “For me, home’s always up ahead,” he says as he steers, “go, go, go—that’s life.” “Really? I thought that life’s what happens when you stay at home.” She thinks about her guest room with no guests, the stacks of china she has never used, the silver service tarnishing in cellophane. 15 She thinks about the Pekingese asleep on a cushion, surrounded by silence. The cabin greets them as they left it: an inch of last week’s Pepsi in a paper cup, the toilet water filmed with ice like paraffin but flushable, the telephone he keeps refusing to connect. “What happens, Will, if we need help— a helicopter, medivac?” “The tough get going when the going gets tough. Dick Nixon did it— so can we.” That night they sleep like campers in their jeans. She wakes at seven, sidles to the shower and slips on a tile. Her ankle cracks like a twig in a bonfire. Two hundred Jeep-miles later she’s in pain and plaster of Paris. “Just tough it out,” he tells her when he leaves, “and we can still do Mexico in June or maybe Argentina— go, go, go.” His words keep fading like a voice beyond the grave. Nothing he tells her matters anymore. 16 She wonders who this stranger is and how they came to meet and why she ever let him in her body. The plastic bracelet on her wrist reminds her of a handcuff. She wants so much to sleep like Snow White with a broken ankle and awaken healed and changed somewhere she’s never been as someone else—with someone else. ...


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