- Tiger in the Glass
In her dreams, their baby lived. He was six, maybe eight months, raw-boned and heavy. He slept between them. Hana felt his heat in the small of her back. That was all. No smell of powder and saliva. No little congested baby breaths. No palsied reaching of little starfish hands. Hana would jerk awake only to find her husband beside her and that she had wet the bed.
“Try to relax,” Paul said, slipping into his health-care professional voice. He spread a towel on her side of the mattress before putting on fresh sheets. “We tuck this in here,” he said, folding hospital corners, as if she didn’t know how a bed was made.
“Paul,” she said. “Don’t.”
He nodded and pursed his lips, but she heard him humming tonelessly. Just make sound was treatment’s golden imperative. And she was soothed, though she hated that he wadded the crevice between mattress and box spring with bedding rather than lifting the mattress and sweeping the linen under.
He changed his pajama pants last, a kidney-shaped stain hip to knee, his assurance that what she’d done wasn’t disgusting or shameful. She sat on the toilet and dribbled, her assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. Not that night. But it had three other times in the month since she’d miscarried.
Screaming, to her, didn’t mean much. If only that helped. Hana was a kind of musician. She held a doctorate in composition from the Longy School at Harvard. Now she worked as a Foley artist. Her forte was horror. People know what sound a body makes relaxing onto a stake because of her. Such expression and relief in a scream, at least on the faces of the ingénues whom everyone wants to see die. She tried it herself at home while Paul was at his office aligning spines. All she got was raw. She designed effects for a small division of a studio conglomerate, Moloch Productions, [End Page 28] which made grainy, realistic films. Hana worked from their home in Summerland, an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles.
“Summerland” was the name for heaven in the heyday of séances. Heaven was a handful of Craftsman houses among agave and ice plant overlooking the Pacific. Hana drove to Culver City a few times a week for meetings with her films’ creators. The rest—the rash of stabbings, the broken necks, the spritzes of blood—she produced at home. It was not unusual for Hana to be standing over shards of a shattered melon in their driveway when Paul pulled in. He’d put on her puffy, black headphones and eeeewwww before guessing “high-altitude impact.” She always felt like a junior high kid showing off a mix tape.
The last straw had been ransacking the bed in the middle of the night searching for the baby they didn’t have. When Hana woke, Paul stood on the bathroom threshold. The fan murmured. She sat on her feet in the middle of the bed in the obelisk of light, the yamcolored coverlet bundled in her arms. She’d pulled the sheets from one corner. Water pat-patted on the rug from the glass Paul upended springing from bed.
“Jesus,” he said. “Okay.” His chest heaved. He ground the butt of his wrist in his eye socket. “How we doing?”
“He’s not here,” she said.
Paul crept back in bed. He caressed her ankle, her knee, her wrist. “He wasn’t. Ever.”
Hana pulled away before he could touch her face. “Yes.” She patted her side of the bed, warmed by her body. “Right here.”
Paul booked a trip to Aspen in the morning. They would join Nash, one of Paul’s fraternity brothers. Through Paul, Hana had known Nash in college. Nash had worn khakis and a tie with flying ducks on it to their formal wedding, and then drank a lot of Scotch and tried to lure Hana’s married sister to his hotel room. Nash was bringing his fiancée, whom Hana hadn’t met.
“What’s she like?” Hana picked...