Excerpt of Love Stories in This Town by Amanda Eyre Ward
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In those dayswhich seemed impossibly bright now, ?untarnishedwe had talked idly about what sort of fishing rod my husband should buy with his jar of quarters. My husband came home each night, took the change from his pants pocket, and dropped it into a large water jug; he claimed he had done this since he was six years old, and the first time the jug filled (right before I met him), he bought a canoe. The canoe! He loved it ferociously. He named the canoe after me, wrote my name in Wite-Out on the side. One night, when I was reading and he was asleep, he spoke. Youre the best, he said, his arms around my waist, squeezing. I checked: he was in dreamland, speaking from that place. Youre the best, he repeated. Youre the best, best, best canoe in the world.
In the end, we had decided that we wanted a baby more than a dog or a fishing rod, and we had thrown away my birth control pills and made love slowly, with the moon shining a soft light over us.
Things had changed so quickly and forcefully that it seemed to me my husband hadnt quite accepted the fact that we were in danger. I lay in bed in the mornings now, hearing helicopters and listening to the news.
Your dad is making fun of me, I told the cat under the covers. I began to cry a little, and my husband said he was sorry.
The next morning, from behind the counter at Ceramic City, I called Dr. Fern. The first time the nurse answered, I hung up. I was alone in Ceramic City, but I did not know what to say to the nurse. Was I being crazy? I wanted to think so. My mother, who lived in Connecticut and had gone to three funerals for her friends sons, told me that it was unpatriotic to want some Cipro for myself. When I told her I was afraid to get out of bed, she said, Thats just how the terrorists want you to feel.
I called Dr. Fern again. This time, when the nurse answered, I said that I would like to make an appointment.
Issue? said the nurse.
Excuse me? I said. A man peeked into the window of Ceramic City. I thought, Fuck.
What is the issue, said the nurse, that you need to see the doctor about?
Uh, Id like to get a prescription, I said.
For ciprofloxacin, I said. The peeking man came inside and began to wander around, inspecting Personalized Pottery.
Beg pardon? said the nurse. Was she instructed not to use full sentences?
In case of an anthrax attack on America, I said, I would like to have my own supply of antibiotics. The man was holding a blue bowl painted with fish. He stared at me.
Oh my, said the nurse.
Well, so, I said. I put my hand over the mouthpiece. Can I be of assistance? I asked the man.
My wifes birthday is Tuesday, he said.
One moment, please, I said. The nurse told me that she would have to consult with the doctor and get back to me. She took my number. When I hung up the phone, I saw that the man had put the bowl back on the shelf.
Should I be scared? he asked. .??.??.
The nurse called later that afternoon and explained in no uncertain terms that the doctor would not give me the drugs I had requested. She added that it was against every tenet of the medical establishment to prescribe drugs when a patient was not ill. I hung up the phone, instead of saying, You self-important bitch. At home that evening, I cried again.
My husband watched me skeptically. We were eating Freebird burritos, sitting on our front porch and peeling off aluminum foil in small, metal circles. Were not going to get anthrax, said my husband. He made a sound that I would classify as an incredulous snort.
Excerpted from Love Stories in This Town by Amanda Eyre Ward Copyright © 2009 by Amanda Eyre Ward. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.