I Married You for Happiness

I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck

Book: I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lily Tuck
Tags: General Fiction
health food restaurant. Sitting across from each other in a booth, they are eating lunch—not touching. What distresses her is how animated they look. When they catch sight of her, abruptly, they stop talking.
    Philip waves her over.
    What are you eating? Nina cannot think of what to say. Garbanzo bean stew—do you want to taste it? Philip holds a spoonful out to her.
    No, thanks. Nina makes a face.

Philip’s metabolism is good; he does not gain weight. He eats what he wants and eats everything.
    She remembers the chicken getting cold downstairs—the sauce and fat congealing together on the platter. She prefers the white meat, the breast; Philip prefers the thigh and drumstick.
    How well suited they are.
    Louise, she thinks.
    Oblivious, Louise is asleep, content after sex, in the arms of a handsome young man. In the morning, everything will change. The handsome young man will be forgotten as Louise quickly packs her suitcase, drives to the airport, and flies back home.
    Louise, Philip’s darling. Always strong and sensible.
    When she was two years old, Louise came down with spinal meningitis. Nina did not recognize the symptoms right away—fever and vomiting. At the time, she thought Louise had a stomach flu or had eaten something that did not agree with her.
    Then Louise had a seizure. Then she went into a coma.
    For once, Nina prayed. In the hospital chapel, on her knees, she prayed and prayed. She lit candles for Louise. She made God all kinds of promises she could not keep.
    God in heaven, Nina says to herself.
    God in heaven, she repeats, not sure what she means.Green pastures filled with contented white sheep is how she sees it. Wearing dresses, the color of candy, Iris and Lorna are waiting for Philip.
    Like in a bad novel.
    But going through the motions—attending church, kneeling, praying—is what, according to Philip, Pascal recommends for people like her who still question the existence of God.
    She tries to remember the words of the psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures
—she shuts her eyes to think but she has forgotten what comes next.
    A different song begins to sound in her head:
Won’t you lay your head upon your savior’s breast
I love you but Jesus loves you the best
And we bid you good night, good night, good night….
    Hadn’t they once gone to a Grateful Dead concert?
    A hot and humid summer night, the air thick with the smell of pot. The Hearst Greek amphitheater is packed with people waving their arms and screaming. Nina can hardly hear the music, much less the words—only she knows most of them by heart. She keeps her eyes fixed on one of the musicians, the piano player. His hair is long and parted in the middle; he looks stoned.
    She pictures herself in bed with him.
    And we bid you good night, good night, good night,
she and Philip sing in the car on the way home.
    They come close then to getting separated.
    Her only friend in Berkeley is the mother of one of Louise’s classmates. Dark-haired and thin, Patsy is divorced. She lives in an apartment complex a few blocks from Nina and Philip’s house; she has a younger boyfriend, Todd. Todd works at Mammoth as a ski patrolman; on his day off, he comes and stays with Patsy. He always arrives with marijuana and other forbidden substances in his worn black backpack.
    Where does he get all that? Nina has to ask.
    From skiers who break their legs and give him their stash, Patsy tells Nina. They don’t want to go to the hospital with that stuff in their pockets—the nurses will confiscate it or, worse, report them to the police.
    Nina’s drug of choice is amyl nitrite, which comes in the form of a little blue capsule that she breaks in half and sniffs up her nose. Right away she gets a rush. Her blood vessels expand, her heart beats faster.
    Poppers are good for sex, Patsy also tells Nina. They relax the sphincter muscles.
    The what … Nina starts to

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