“I’d like to go to New York City.” Winnie burst in the door with excitement, interrupting Joel’s much-needed study session. He was falling behind in a couple of his classes because he couldn’t keep his hands off his wife. Capping his highlighter marker, Joel tucked a notecard into the correct spot on his textbook intending to give Winnie his undivided attention.
“That could be fun,” Joel said. “We’d need to wait until after graduation before taking a vacation.”
“I want to go for the whole summer,” she said, sitting across from him at their dining room table. “And possibly the fall.”
Joel sat back hard against his chair and gripped his hands into his hair, pulling gently. “Uh… I’m starting into med school in the fall.”
“Which is why you won’t really miss me because you’ll be too busy.”
“Trust me, I’ll miss you.” His voice lowered in frustration. They’d been married less than two months and part of that time had been spent in sickness rather than in health. The thought of Winnie being gone for even a single day was unfathomable.
“Let’s just go over to New York City for a few weeks after graduation and see if I get hired by a theatre and if I even like living there, and then at least we’ll know if there’s a possibility of me having a dancing career. Please?”
Career. Joel hadn’t thought of that. She intended to make dance her career. Of course she did. He just never put the puzzle pieces together. Ballet. Theatre. New York City. Yeah, he was an idiot for not seeing this course for her life. React quickly, Joel. Support your wife. “Absolutely. Of course. Summer in New York City sounds fantastic.” Liar.
“Thank you so much!” Winnie bounced with excitement and Joel opened his arms to welcome her onto his lap. “I danced for hours today listening to the whole suite from Swan Lake, picturing myself as any one of the many dancers in a company. Can’t you just see me with beautiful white feathers wrapped around my head? Or… in that black, mysterious tutu as the black swan?” She wiggled her eyebrows seductively.
“You will be a vision in white.” Joel leaned closer for a chaste kiss. “And a temptress in black.” He pulled her closer for a much less chaste kiss. Heck if her reaction to his kiss brought out this kind of response, he’d sew her that black costume himself.
He forgot about his studies and pulled her thick parka off her shoulders gaining easier access to the soft wraparound sweater and every layer underneath, and there were many layers. Leotard, tights, sports bra, everything came off, right there in the dining room. She pulled his clothes off him just as quickly as he pulled hers off.
Joel wondered if he’d ever tire of making love to his wife. The thought occurred to him that he wouldn’t have a choice if she stayed in New York City and he returned to Michigan for med school. He shoved that thought aside as quickly as he shoved his textbook and notebooks and pens and calculator off the table, making room for a much more desirable study subject.
Graduation was still weeks away, and fall was a million days from now. A million days of passionate abandon in each other’s arms. A million days of pretending the world could never interrupt their perfect existence. A million days pretending a million was infinity and beyond.
Book Club Discussion Questions: What other kinds of challenges might they face if they're separated?