Excerpt of I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
(Page 6 of 6)
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She has not bothered to draw the curtains. Outside, above
the waving tree branches, she can make out a few stars in the
night sky. A mere dozen in a galaxy of a billion or a trillion stars.
Perhaps death, she thinks, is like one of those stars - a star that
can be seen only backward in time and exists in an unobservable
state. While life, she has heard said, was created from stars - the
What did he say to her exactly?
I am a bit tired, I am going to lie down for a minute
I am going to lie down for a minute before supper, I am
a bit tired.
or something else entirely.
She is in the kitchen. Spinning the lettuce. She looks up
How was your day?
She half listens to his reply.
We had a faculty meeting. You should hear how those new
physicists talk! They're crazy, Philip says, as he goes upstairs.
She makes the salad dressing, she sets the table. She takes
the chicken out of the oven. She boils new potatoes. Then she
Philip! Dinner is ready.
She starts to open a bottle of red wine but the cork is stuck.
He will fix it.
Again, Philip, Philip! Dinner!
Before she walks into the bedroom, she knows already.
She sees his stocking feet. He has taken off his shoes.
What was he thinking? About dinner? About her? A paper
he is reading by one of his students, arguing that Kronecker
was right to claim that the Aristotelian exclusion of completed
infinites could be maintained?
Infinites. Infinite sets. Infinite series.
Infinity makes her anxious.
It gives her nightmares. As a child, she had a recurring
dream. A dream she can never put into words. The closest
she comes to describing the dream, she tells Philip, is to say
that it has to do with numbers. The numbers - if in fact they
are numbers - always start out small and manageable, although
in the dream Nina knows that this is temporary, for
soon they start to gather force and multiply; they become
large and uncontrollable. They form an abyss. A black hole
You're in good company, is what Philip tells her. The
Greeks, Aristotle, Archimedes, Pascal all had it.
No, what the dream stands for.
The terror of the infinite.
But, for Philip, infinity is a demented concept.
Infinity, he says, is absurd.
Excerpted from I Married You for Happiness
by Lily Tuck. Copyright © 2011 by Lily Tuck.
Excerpted by permission of Atlantic Monthly Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.