A man pursues an unlikely lifestyle under the watch of God.
By Caitlin Farrugia
It wasn’t that one wife didn’t fill the void; it was simply that he had been sent on a sanctified assignment from God himself to pursue a life of polygamy. He saw himself as a man of modesty, of humility that just happened to exist as an extravagant expression of God’s influence. He, out of millions, was the voice of Christ; sometimes he too could not believe the arrangement.
When watching ‘The Bachelor’ with his seven wives, his face twisted at the insincere representation of polygamy, as though it were exotic and stimulating – it had undermined years of his toleration and endurance as the example of the Divine. As his wives passed around a family pack of Arnotts biscuits in front of the telly, he meditated on what it might be like to run away with his second wife Cathy. Skinny love he thought, as he watched the televisions glow light her soft and unassuming face in the dark, the other women becoming silhouettes to Cathy’s shine.
Thursdays in his diary were always marked boldly, as though no other day existed, a whole year could just be fifty-two Thursdays. Thursdays meant spooning Cathy. Upon walking the stair to her room, he’d tip toe softly to not appear over zealous and in a way to deftly respect the time allocated to her, not to speed past it but to control his fervour. She in bed, would always bestow the same gesture, instantaneously looking up from her novel with a striking smile. He’d breathe her in, inhaling her perfume of softness and warmth, touching her hair golden in wisps that lay about her porcelain face. Her cheeks were dainty and blushed; her skin smooth stretches of milk. It was an iniquitous and ongoing punishment to be the voice of God but certainly not your own advocate.
Albeit, there was one meagre attempt he made to escape his obligation. Overwhelmed by Cathy’s presence, her hair pushed away from her face, her shirt smelt of a French patisserie and her full lips pressed against a pen. She drew a line through her shopping list after loading the trolley with lugs of discounted detergent. The other wives spread across aisles 7, 19 and 24, in the far corner of Costco, he almost asked Cathy to elope. Words occupied his mouth, pushing edgily into his tight cheeks, and in an instant, time surpassed his clandestine desires. Under the eyes of God, he suddenly hated the word almost.
Over the laundry sink, he re-evaluated himself, washing his peeling skin from his calloused hands. He assumed the coarseness of his palms would act as an exfoliator, instead decorated his face into a red mess. Looking into the mirror, his face was haggard, gaunt with stress. Lines elongated from his forehead to his chin. Heavy indents, deeply set above his brow and neat little skin stripes from the corner of his eyes. He would be credulous to think Cathy’s need for him exceeded her pursuit for the celestial kingdom. His feathered hair retreated into itself and his faded blue eyes had become spotted steel grey. His beauty had been erased and over time, his intellect and sharp comments had been expunged from his essence. Brushing off drips of water from his face, it had taken immense energy to act as the prophet; convincing women into obey at the cost of his most sensational innate feelings. Faith had exasperated him, as though a knife had slit him open, scarring another line into his flesh, as fingers stole organs and he was left paralyzed, numb without ability to subsist. The other wives had become mouldy, repeats of each other. They seriously pursued the rule of sacrificing laughter, where Cathy would exhibit an unsullied grin that exuded youth and purity.
It wasn’t a Thursday but grieving his identity, softly stepped the stair, lingering about Cathy’s door. Ajar, the landscape of her room inviting, he could hear whispers of prayer. Her voice a graceful melody, she knelt on her knees. Through her loose satin nightgown, he could see the shadow of her spine run down her elegant back. He imagined how his rough hand must feel against something so delicate. As though to itch away her splendor, to blemish her petite body, to adulterate her spirit through touches of harshness. Sullenness anchored itself as his lungs became tight and in the darkness of the corridor, without Cathy’s observe, he silently joined her in prayer.