A woman deals with a mysterious affliction. A couple invite new friends over for dinner. A young man faces his own guilt after a terrible event. A woman and her new lover visit a terminally ill former lover. In each of these very different stories there is a confrontation. A truth is revealed, but often the truth is a terrible, strange and unwelcome thing.
We stop at a motel off the shoulder of the highway. I’ve only got doubles left, says the woman behind the counter, are you right to share? We nod and she hands us the key and warns us about the water pressure in the shower. After we’ve unpacked she goes to smoke on the balcony while I buy Fantas from the vending machine downstairs.
The week had been fiercely hot without even a breath of breeze, and humidity draped the house like a wet towel. Scott had even suggested they might have to cancel the dinner. But just after lunch a dry wind bullied its way under the blanket of cloud, whipping the leaves and curtains with a furious energy as though defying anyone to complain about its absence.
‘You’re like the surface of the moon,’ my husband says, picking up my wrist, inspecting the small blue dot that has appeared in the hollow between the knuckles on my left hand. ‘Very strange.’ His breath is warming the circular spot: no bigger than a one euro coin. ‘When did they first appear?’
I only knew her first name when I was working there: Karen. Man, I still get goosebumps just thinking that name. Karen was my manager at the Goodwear store downtown. It was between two other big stores, real narrow and deep, like a closet that goes way back. It had two levels and it was just women’s clothes, no men’s.