The Starter Wife

"Darling, they could last over a week with distilled water, and only distilled water, and one aspirin," he said, hyper as a whippet. "Did you have a dinner party last week? I heard you had a dinner party last week, you know you're supposed to call me for your dinner parties, naughty girl, are you cheating on Raymondo?"

"I'm the one who needs an aspirin," Gracie told him, unconsciously squeezing the phone like a lemon. Her forearm started throbbing. She knew it was because she wanted to wring Kenny's thick neck.

"I didn't get any flowers, Raymond."

"What's that, Precious?" he squeaked.

Raymond was gay. Gracie wondered if he were single. Gracie wondered if gay, single men would want to go out with her.

Gracie cleared her throat of an enormous, Kenny-hating lump. "I didn't receive any flowers."

There was silence at the other end of the phone.

"There must be some mistake," he finally said, with a droplet of cheer at having tripped upon an appropriate lie.

"Oh yes." Gracie heard the shuffling of papers.

"Oh yes," he repeated. Gracie had known Raymond for seven years and had never heard him, to her knowledge, lie. So Gracie waited, curious and patient. This was her new life: people stumbling on their words, and her, with the newfound ability to read their thoughts.

Gracie knew what Raymond was thinking. "Oh, shit" was probably first in his mind, followed in close succession by "Who the hell did Kenny send one hundred roses to?" then "I'm going to kill my assistant," and finally "Wait till I tell (everyone)." Gracie watched her girl as she stood, arms over her head, swinging her doll-sized hips, in front of the television set, watching the most famous homosexual revue in the world, The Wiggles. Gracie had tricked her daughter long ago to listen to the television with the sound turned down almost to mute. Thus, only one of her senses could be assaulted by The Wiggles at a time.

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