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from PUTTERING ABOUT IN A SMALL LAND / Philip K. Dick She held him in her arms; she held him in her, as close and far as he would go. She patted him and stroked his back and breathed through her mouth against his ear, so that she heard her own breath rushing back at her. The bedroom smelled of cinnamon. "I've got you," she said. "I could kill you." I love you, she thought. What would your wife say? Raising her hand she let up the window shade; she wanted to view him. Enough light entered the room, and she could see. In the next house the living room lights were on, and so were other lights in other living rooms, in the houses across the street. A porch light shone more brightly than the others; she saw, on that family's front walk, a tricycle and a toy wagon. Lying there, she listened to radios and voices. "They're sitting around the living room," she said. "Watching TV and darning socks." "Who?" he said. "They all are. They're talking about—" She considered. "Mr. Daniels is saying that county taxes are going up this next June. Mr. Sharp is saying that he likes to watch accordion players better than dramas. Mrs. Felton is saying that Tide soap is on sale at fifty-nine cents for the giant size. What time is it? Nine o'clock? What's on TV? You'd know that; you sell TV sets." "I don't know," he said. His voice was muffled because his face was buried in the pillow and in her hair. She smoothed his hair back into place. The scratchy underside of his jaw pressed at her shoulder; she felt the bristles penetrate her skin as he spoke. "You have a very nice back," she said. "Why?" "You're not fat. You don't have rolls of fat all over you." She shifted so that she could lift herself; she wanted to look through the window and see the entire street, each of the houses. "I like to think about them," she said. "The people living out there. What do you think they'd say if they could see us?" She thought about Virginia; she always thought about Virginia. Tm lying here with her husband, she thought. That's how I think of it. I have your husband, Virginia. Don't hate me. "Aren't I hurting you?" Roger said. "No. Don't move." She hugged him until she heard her own ribs crack. "You're not heavy." Much lighter, she thought, than he is. How different bodies are. Copyright ° 1983 by the estate of Philip K. Dick 286 · The Missouri Review If they could see us, she thought, they would turn to stone. Yes, she thought; I can see them, marble statues, with weeds and brambles growing around them. The cracking apart of the walls. She saw the houses fall apart and decay. She saw the rose bushes grow over them, weigh them down, cause them to collapse. And the stone statues gaped. We have got old watching, the statues said. We could not look away. "Why would it kill them?" she said. "Couldn't they stand it? It's not that bad . . . something else must do it to them." "Jealous," he murmured. She kissed him. You're wrong, she thought. I love you, but you don't understand. Why would they be jealous? Men are so odd. Walking along with a girl and telling other men by a certain code, Hey fellows, look what I get to lay. I know about you, she thought, holding him tighter. And maybe you do make a few of them jealous, a few who haven't had any for awhile. But the others; Tm thinking about them. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Daniels and Mrs. Felton. She thought, They would stand gaping because they would feel themselves getting weak. Every second, the tiring out. The fumbling. When I am like this, she thought, I don't get old. As long as I am lying here, holding him inside me, I neither sink nor fall. I do not go in any direction. I am...


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