Steven Gillis (bio)





Sunny Meadows is a community of rare promise. The houses are bright, the lawns smooth and green, the cars at the curb washed down to the rims of their tires. We are a congenial group of entry-level executives, teachers and technicians, salesmen and women who've come together like birds on a wire, as stable in our perch as any flock can be.

My wife wears silk pajamas. In the morning she drinks coffee before taking her shower and dressing for work. I like the way the material settles over her curves, how sexy she looks without intending, the sleep still in her eyes, her body soft and bare beneath the blue. Carol - who is not my wife - sleeps in cotton pants and a long sleeved sweatshirt, the face of Minnie Mouse on the front, the phrase "Rats Rule!" below. Carol is a large woman, fleshy through the belly, her arms and butt. Her breasts are small however, as if devoured by the surrounding fat. When we have sex, as we're supposed to do, she grunts and lays herself out like a pale colossus tossed up and bloated on the shore.

My son, Tye, is uneasy around Carol. Barely three, he doesn't like the way she smells, or how she insists he tuck his napkin in his shirt when he eats. Others have him put his napkin in his lap, or fold it neatly beside his plate, all of which proves confusing to a child. Tye tries hard to remain polite, is a sweet boy, tolerant and accepting, and consoles himself by knowing at the end of the month Carol will be gone.

I dress in grey, inside my closet, while Carol shuffles about, sniffs and scratches and knocks on the door. "In a minute," I tell her. My voice is pleasant, though my hands rise up and stir the air. I turn on my radio and listen to the news. A man from Cleveland was arrested yesterday for teaching, 'The Stag Hunt and Evolution of Social Structure,' by Brian Skyrms to his 11th grade English class. I know the book only by name, go downstairs and sit with Tye. The bus comes at 7:45 and takes him away.

Sunny Meadows has its own day care which shuttles the pre-school kids to Herrnhut House where they're taught their ABCs, their numbers and nursery rhymes and how to access the internet for pre-approved pictures, music and games. My son looks very much like his mother, though I'm not supposed to tell him this. (Page 14, Section 27A, Sub-Paragraph 3 of our Sunny Meadows Covenant addresses the need to, "De-emphasize the relevance of biological connectives.") The philosophy behind child rearing at Sunny Meadows favors, "A redefining of the familial by establishing each adolescent's attachment to the community as a whole." I buy my son candy, explain what he needs to know.

At 7:50 I'm in my car and driving downtown. I work for Warp Speed Public Relations as an image specialist. My job is to repair the reputations of WSPR clients, public figures and corporations mostly. With so many targets laid bare these days, demand for our services is unprecedented, our client list two file cabinets high. I reach my office by 8:30 and spend much of the next three hours on the phone, returning messages, putting out fires and checking the latest public opinion polls. On my desk is a picture of my wife. She has short, dark blonde hair, a round face, high cheeks and eyes like two blue plums. In the photo she has on a green top, her lips parted to laugh. Article IV, Paragraph 5, Subsection 3 of the Sunny Meadows Covenant forbids me from having this sort of photograph displayed. (Only materials depicting one's current Communal Partner - as Carol is for me - are permitted.) Our Covenant also bans 27 words and phrases under subsection 13B, including use of the terms: "significant other," "spousal unit," "consort," "mate," "ball and chain," "husband" or "wife."

My wife works for Jamboree Investment. A wiz with numbers, she manages my money in a diversified account. This month she's living with Paul Westcliff who runs the Midtown Cafe. Paul is three years older than me, tall and tanned by ultra violet bulbs he pays to stand beneath in Norma's Browning & Exfoliating Salon. It's now August. If we follow the schedule, I won't be with my wife again until March. The living arrangements at Sunny Meadows involve an intricate system of rotation, with cohabitation between property owners and DPRs - Dues Paying Residents - changing month to month. DPRs move from one house to the next, our cycle of Communal Partners based on the theory that, "Those who learn to trust and live in the hands of many will give back to many the same in turn." (Article 8, Paragraph 4, Subsection 11C as first introduced in Pythagoras' Homakoeion community of 520 BC.) Sexual preference, race and age, ethnicity and religious convictions are not only ignored in these assignments, but differences are preferred.

I purchased my house five years ago, in the summer before my wife arrived, following the first of what the government called our 'unification elections' and the third wave of reforms. Sunny Meadows was created in response to the revolution, what has now become the war within the war. The week my wife attended her first assembly at Sunny Meadows, the government launched a new television show on the cable network WIN - We're In Now - where each night the penalty phase imposed on recent SDs - Social Detainies - was broadcast live. The telecast proved a ratings bonanza. Just yesterday, two men accused of plotting to stage their wedding in the grotto behind the Church of the Holy Refrain, were drawn and quartered on WIN in a specially constructed tank before 27 million viewers.

"A community capable of loving everyone freely will grow as one in spirit." (Article 7, Paragraph 2, Subsection 9B, also found in the writings of the Millenial communes of the 11th century and the Brethren of Free Spirits, circa 1530.) Conversely, "A society which rejects memetic evolution and fails to establish a metasystem allowing for the acceptance of all, will become inbred, insular and exclusionary." (Article 9, Paragraph 3, Subsection 19A, as adopted from the German Anabaptists, the Diggers of England and Australia's Herrnhut.) "You'd make me laugh if it wasn't prohibited." (Vladimir in Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting For Godet.')

My wife moved to Sunny Meadows the month I was living with Hester Funte, a massage therapist from Cedar Rapids. Hester had long red hair worn in dreadlock braids thick as ropes, her hands veined and strong, her feet pointing out to the sides like rabbit paws. Once the Board finished its background check and approved my wife's application, she was introduced to us at our bi-monthly pot luck held at the Waldense Rec Center. We greeted her with loud applause, cheered again as she signed her contract, welcomed her with hugs and handshakes and put her immediately into the rotation.

Three months after our initial meeting, my wife came to stay with me. I'd just finished a cycle with Eric Finwich as my Communal Partner, my wife Abu Cho. We got along famously from the start, all of my wife's charms revealed to me throughout the next four weeks. I found her attractive, the curve in her hips and wave of her hair, appreciated how she spoke and listened, too, with eyes straightforward, her interest in sports and music, politics and film. She played piano poorly, was learning to cook paellas, jogged in the evening and slept with her body curled on her side. I spooned her in the second week, and when we came to make love she invited me softly, my desire already clear, I waited for her to tell me it was ok as I whispered twice and asked what she thought about the future of Sunny Meadows.

We separated at the end of the month, filed our reports as required, detailed our experience and impressions. I was clinical in my summary, honest enough to say that I found my most recent Communal Partner splendid, though cautious of confiding more, I wrote nothing about my lingering affections.

In October, Charlotta Agwhett came to live with me. 69 and widowed, Charlotta had an uncompromising temperament. ("I don't suffer fools.") Age gave her harshness a sense of urgency, as if there were things she'd wanted to say her whole life which, for reasons not of her own choosing, were delayed. Her skin was dark as hickory wood, her black arms thick, the flesh gone slack and hanging beneath like saddlebags, her neck ringed with creases, her stride stiff and slow from an illness she refused to talk about. "Don't worry, it's not contagious," she assured me even as the stench from her episodes in the bathroom reached the front of the house and I had to hide my queasiness behind the pages of a book.

Charlotta wore nylon socks on her fat legs that bunched up in a band beneath her knee. Her sundress was large and faded where the print of colorful flowers once covered her rotund frame. She'd spent most of her life in Detroit, sorting mail at the Main Post Office, and came to Sunny Meadows after her husband died and the government sent her a Notice of Termination, explaining how the latest reforms applied the $109,000 her husband paid into Social Security over his 37 years working for Detroit Edison against, 'future considerations.' "Upon review," the letter said, "our findings show that the medical expenses accrued by your husband in his last 11 months, coupled with the expectation of costs your own healthcare will tally exceed the total of any further payments you might expect from our funds."

"Our funds?" Charlotta bristled. "Since when did mine become theirs?"

"If you wish to defer your own expenses," the letter went on, "you might choose from a list of available black men age 67-74 which the government will provide, and as such resituate yourself in a marital commitment sanctioned by the State."

"Resituate my dead Aunt's fanny," Charlotta took out her teeth and snapped several sizeable bites from the air.

Sex was a voluntary exchange between Communal Partners and forbidden when the age difference between two CPs was over 20 years. (Article XVII, Chapter 12, Subsection 4 of our Covenant.) Sleeping together was mandated however, as a means of, "establishing a more formidable sense of intimacy." (Article XV, Chapter 10, Subsection 2.) When I crawled into bed beside Charlotta, I thought of my wife, and when Charlotta woke in the night in pain and groused at me, "It's nothing. Quit now, go back to sleep," I continued to think what I would do if my wife was suffering this way. Twice I took Charlotta's hand and twice she pulled it free. Late in the third week, I woke to find she'd reached for me and heard her moaning soft and low in her sleep.


"Relationships sanctioned by the State cultivate bias while reinforcing enmity toward all that falls outside the prescribed definition of norm. Sunny Meadows opposes such parochial myopia which ignores the virtues of compassion, solidarity and fellowship while forcing an unwitting public to piss into the wind and call it rain." (Article 11, Paragraph 3, Subsection 7F, as culled from America's New Harmony, Brook Farm, Oneida and Hull House, Camphill and Drop City.)


Women who become pregnant at Sunny Meadows are given the option of removing themselves from the rotation and staying at the Deganya Common House or anywhere else they might choose. Very few women take advantage of the offer however, preferring to share their experience with each new Communal Partner, my wife included. She was living with Ed Ducine when I found out we were going to have a baby, and ecstatic, I tried convincing her to come live with me. "Thanks," she replied, her smile not unkind, even as she said, "Henry," said "Henry," and walked away.

I watched my wife in the months before Tye was born, as her belly swelled and her face became radiant. Under the terms of our Covenant, as I was both a property owner and paterfamilias, Tye came to live with me. (Article 11, Paragraph 5, Subsection 3B: "Each child will be assimilated into the community by way of expanding the maternal influence through a host of communal mothers while domiciled with the father.") Arrangements were made in advance, my Communal Partners selected from a list of those able to care for Tye during the day. That first month, as was orchestrated for all new birth mothers, the normal cycle of rotation was adjusted and my wife came to stay with Tye and me.

We were a family then, happily together. At night, my wife and I fed and bathed and lay with Tye, gazing down, watching him as if exploring a great mystery. We slept with him beside us in the bassinet, my fingers reaching through the thin slats of wood in order to find his hand which curled warm and fragile around my thumb. Later, I spooned my wife who allowed me this, and while not yet ready to make love, she seemed to enjoy being held close, did not deny or turn me away when I cooed in her ear.

Charlotta visited, as did Eric Finwich, Abu Cho, Paul Westcliff and many others eager to celebrated Tye's birth and the bounty of having a new baby to love and raise. Wet nurses augmented Tye's feeding, easing both mother and child into the transition of separation. My wife loved our son, I was sure of this, even though she never wept nor expressed doubt when asked about her leaving at the end of the month. Whenever I brought the subject up, she simply stood and went off to pump her milk in bottles stored for after she was gone.


That winter, the government added a segment to its cable broadcast called, 'Purge The Page,' where suspect books were pulled from stores and public library shelves and burned on screen in a blazing blue-green bonfire. Initial titles featured Curtis Sittenfeld's 'Prep,' Tom Hayden's 'The Port Huron Statement,' and 'The Collected Essays of Andy Rooney.' A review of 'Purge The Page' in the National Gazette called the show, "Riveting and hot, hot, hot!" while buried deeper in the paper, between the comics and the weather, was a report out of Iowa where Robert Noyes, the author of 'Milkweed In Love,' was found tared and feathered and duct taped to the flagpole outside of Sioux City's local Kiwanis Club.


When Tye was two, he developed an infection in his kidneys, ran a high fever and had to be hospitalized. I spent hours pacing the halls and sitting beside his bed while members of Sunny Meadows came in shifts to keep me company. My wife arrived, sat and paced and spoke to doctors. She tried to appear no worse than when other children fell ill or were injured in the neighborhood, but her concern for Tye was bound by something else again, and more than once I found her hovered over our son, her hand soft in his hair, nurturing and maternal as she told him, "There, there, baby boy. It's alright, Tye. Momma has you."

I waited until we were alone in the room, then stood close and put my arm around her shoulder. Soon I kissed her and she let me, and afterward I reached to adjust Tye's sheet and said, "Here is the world. Here is everything."

Tye's infection cleared and I took him home at the end of the week. My wife came with soup. She brought Tye picture books and stuffed animals. I was living then with Justine Wyle, a professor of Linguistics at Lamont Community College, my wife with Marshal Hennese, a hotel consignor at the Wilunbrush Plaza. Justine taught a night class each Tuesday and Thursday. My wife arrived at 7:00 and we made love with Tye asleep and the monitor in his bedroom turned high. Within the month we were meeting regularly away from Sunny Meadows, stealing time at lunch and whenever else we could. Laying together atop the red rumpled bedspread at the Slip On Inn off US23, my hands in a paw-paw motion as if I couldn't quite get enough and feared if I didn't touch her constantly she'd disappear, I spoke of our affair.

"You and Tye," I whispered into the flat of my wife's belly, my lips pressed down, my face moving north and south. I turned her over, slid my hand across her bare bottom. "The way we feel is different from how we care about the others. However hard we try to replicate these emotions, we can't do it. At best, its just a good performance. Does that make sense? Do you understand what I'm saying?"

My wife rolled over and touched my cheek. The fear in her face had vanished. This wasn't the effect I wanted and I spoke more urgently then, my words going round and around like a wheel in a hamster's cage. I watched my wife get up to dress, and desperate to slow her down, I said, "Wait. Wait," and reminded her how she felt before, how afraid she was when Tye got sick and she so tenderly then had kissed me.

Our affair ended that same summer. My wife's exact words were, "We can't anymore, Henry. This isn't right." We'd just finished making love at the Slip On Inn when she told me, "We have to stop. We're cheating."

"Who exactly?"

My wife's frown produced three perfect lines across her forehead. She sat on the side of the bed with her bare back to me. She had a mellifluous voice which, when made sharp, sounded like a clarinet rising out from a symphony of surrounding instruments. "Not who. What," she sang.

"But how can I be cheating when you're the only woman I love?" "That's just it," she pulled on her blouse, stood and warned, "You're not supposed to."

I wanted to kiss her neck, to convince her we'd done nothing wrong, that she and I were supposed to be here, but she was already starting in with quotes from our Covenant. "A community capable of loving everyone freely will grow as one in spirit."

"Freely, yes. You and me," I watched her step into her panties and skirt as I stood across the bed in my socks and t-shirt, my undershorts somewhere lost in the sheets, and dangling in the warmth of the room, I did not want to leave. My wife bent down just the same, found my underwear and threw it at me. "Those who learn to trust and live in the hands of many will give back to many the same in turn."

"But isn't that what we're doing, giving back to one another?"

"No," she said, annoyed with how I was twisting things around. "There are rules, Henry."

"And the fact that I love you?"

She shook her head. "It's not enough. It's too much. I don't want it. I want more. If I just loved you," she raised her voice, waved her arms, the sun through the blinds of the Slip On Inn lighting her hair. "If I did," she called out, then paused as if the question itself surprised her. After a moment, she stared back at me, and frowning more harshly this time, cried "You'd like that now, wouldn't you, Henry?"


Two months pass and then another. I can't sleep, am impatient with Tye, contentious with my Communal Partners. The monthly reports filed on me are troubling, I'm called in by the Board of Directors to explain what's the matter. I apologize and promise to do better. "These are not easy times for any of us," Edna Hersted reminds me, smiling and touching my arm. She's a women near fifty, fleshy like Carol with silver grey sprouts of hair, a deific grin, green eyes and shoulders which seem somehow padded. Her reference to our situation is understandable. Recently, the government has begun an investigation of Sunny Meadows, a review of our holdings is underway, letters sent to the Board of Directors demanding a full audit of our finances and a clear statement of our purpose. We're surprised only that it has taken so long, are prepared to respond to all claims and indictments, though everyone is uneasy, too, and knows what we're up against.

I watch that night with Andi Kane, my current Communal Partner, as the government broadcasts on WIN a woman strapped to the wing of a plane and flown dangling from a height of 10,000 feet, her crime petitioning the Church for an annulment of her marriage without the proper amount of penitence in her Paypal donation. Afterward, I didn't care to discuss the show, and restless, told Andi that I was going out for a jog.

I run toward Essenes Court, pretending not to know what I'm doing. Everything is so off kilter. Even at work things have changed, political pressures from those resentful of our success at rehabilitating the reputations of government rivals have threatened to destroy our business if we refuse to expand our client base. Six weeks ago, the partners at WSPR gave into the government's demands and took on companies we otherwise preferred not to deal with. Pilsmore Pharmaceutical was first in line, their latest wonder drug yet another sexual enhancer called Kokchure. (Take Kokchure And Knock On Wood!) The drug suffered a marked decline in sales due to the inauspicious side effect of uncontrollable flatulence. ("This stinks!" the CEO of Pilsmore howled.) I was asked to handle the account, and reluctant at first, was persuaded only as the partners said I should consider such a personal favor.

The public is tolerant of many things, bleeding ulcers, sore throats, runny noses and severe heart palpitations, but farting loud in meetings, in elevators and restaurants and even during sex presents an altogether different problem. I decided managing this sort of campaign required candor, and relying on data gathered from a recent study, presented the facts which showed that just over 17-percent of the men who took Kokchure experienced the sort of flatulence one might consider "severe." From this I posed the question: "In the wake of a weak willy, what man wouldn't be willing to risk the odds?" For television, I produced a spot where a middle-aged man stood sheepishly in a bedroom, near an open window, the breeze blowing the curtains back and forth, while a slightly younger woman sat on the side of the bed, smiling as she slipped off her shoes and began unbuttoning her blouse. In the background, as the man winked and shot his right leg out to the side, I inserted 10CC's anthem, 'The Things We Do For Love.' The ad played during the NBA finals in June, sales rose 67-percent in less than a week, everyone at Pilsmore ecstatic, and then suddenly they were not.


The street lamps were lit and I ran with my shadow appearing and disappearing in front of me. My wife had purchased a home last spring, was no longer a DPR and hosted each month her own Communal Partners. I'd taken of late to watching her while standing in the bushes at night, my feet sunk in the soil of her garden. I saw her with Josh Merstin, with Jim Francon and Amy Pratt, each in turn where I should be. Since ending our affair, my wife had treated me with distance, at once awkward and formal, apologetic and evasive. I waited for her to change her mind and take me back, eager for her to admit the feelings she had for others was not the same as how she felt for Tye and me, but this was slow to happen, and looking to move things along, I brought Tye by her house and asked if we might visit, invited her to lunch - she didn't think this was a good idea - and occasionally in the evening found myself by chance at the same grocery store, mall or restaurant. She was always polite, would ask after Tye, tell me about Josh Merstin baking buckeye cookies, Amy's interest in motor cross, and Jim Francon's fondness for macrame. "I have to go," she'd say before I could mention us, and leave without so much as touching my sleeve.

I turned onto Essenes Court, hurried across my wife's lawn, caught my breath inside the bushes. What hope I had left was placed in the luck of the schedule and how, as a consequence of my wife's current Communal Partner, I convinced myself she would at last come to her senses and return to me. Sliding closer to the window, I saw my wife inside the front room, sitting with her legs crossed beneath her in the brown cushioned chair. Byran Moravian was not yet in view, though he must have been talking nearby, because my wife was nodding her head and answering now and again with what I couldn't hear. Byran was a tedious little gnat of a man with odd tics and queer fetishes, sour smells emanating from his flesh, his fingers stained by the work he did as a restorationist for Lazarus' Renovations; he spent his days refurbishing antique desks, George III etageres, armoires and Louis Majorelle chairs.

I kept myself positioned flat against the wall, with just enough of my right eye exposed to see inside. When Byran appeared, he was carrying two glasses of wine. I watched him hand a glass to my wife, then sit down on the couch across from her. My wife nodded her head politely while I shifted my feet and waited for her expression to change. Byran had straight brown hair combed down over his forehead in wet strips separated by a quarter inch of pale flesh. His shirt was purple with a wide collar and cuffs, his slacks grey and shoes brown. Despite his usual attire, there was something different about him, the way he sat on the couch, all poised and serene, the facial tics and hand gestures so otherwise prevalent conspicuous in their absence.

My wife laughed at something Byran said, tipped her head back in that playful way she had when pleased with life and her world in general. I saw her drink more wine, waited for a show of resistance to enter her face, the distaste and revulsion I anticipated her finding for Byran. Instead, her expression remained cheery, her smile generous and at ease. I watched as she ran a hand back through her hair, not flirtatious but with a sort of comfort and sense of serenity which confused me to the point of despair.


I left the bushes and trotted toward home. Halfway there a car pulled up alongside me and Edna Hersted rolled down her window. My first thought was that someone had spotted me peeping and reported me to the Board, and worried - "We should talk," Edna said. - I came around and got in her car. Immediately I began stuttering out an excuse, but Edna wasn't listening, and placed a large manila folder in my lap while turning on the overhead light. Inside were formal complaints against Sunny Meadows, charges of moral misconduct, corruption of minors and violations of no less than sixteen civil ordinances, statutes and penal codes. There were even specific charges of tax fraud - "They're coming after us as if we're Al Capone." - and a filing of Eminent Domain. "The government wants to seize Sunny Meadows," Edna spoke through clenched teeth. "They're looking to buy up and raze our homes so the land can be developed for public use. They're talking about putting up a State University, Henry. As if there aren't other properties to build their precious school on. Jesus, can you imagine what they'll teach?"

I slid the papers back into their folder, the sweat from my forehead running down to my hands, a certain elation passing over me as I pictured Byran again with my wife, and how much better for me if the government did run us off. "This is terrible," I turned my head away from the light. "But I don't understand. How can I help?"


Tye is asleep, Andi upstairs reading when I get home. I come in and take a shower, think of what Edna has asked, how the Board wants to hire WSPR. "We'll need attorneys for the legal fight, we know, but if we can show this is a witch hunt. If we can put our best foot forward. If we can get our message out before they break us down," Edna was nearly in tears. I handed her back the folder, told her I'd see what I could do.

My head is buzzing from all the night has brought so far, and I confuse the ringing of the phone for something else. "Bill Nevett," Andi says as I come from the bathroom, and hands me a yellow slip of paper. I pull on a clean t-shirt and fresh undershorts, then go down to the front room and return Bill's call. It's not unusual for one of the three partners at WSPR to phone me at night, though typically not this late, and as Bill comes on the line his agitation startles me. "God damn, Henry," he says. "God damn!"

I hear ice in a glass shaken then thumped down on a counter top, and when I ask Bill what's wrong, he tells me about Kokchure, how "Men are dropping like flies!" Literally farting themselves into episodes of apoplexy, heart attacks and comas. "They're blowing their insides out through their God damn bungholes!" Bill howls. "It's an epidemic, Henry. A little gas, yes, but we never, that is to say, not this much. Shit Henry, there's going to be lawsuits, people naming WSPR right along with Pilsmore." he groans and says, "God damn it, we marketed the fucking thing!"

I listen to him vent, expect him to offer a mea culpa and admit the mistake he and the other partners made from the start. Instead, and only as he says my name again, softer, the way one might a sick dog before putting him down, does the reason for Bill's call occur to me.

I hang up the phone and sit for a time in the dark. Andi comes and asks if everything's alright. She's a sweet woman, a bit taller and a few years older than my wife, attractive in a grade school teacher sort of way. She wears her hair pinned in back, and when she lets it down at night there's an initial surprise, as if I'm in the presence of a different person. I tell her yes, that everything is fine. She rubs my shoulders for a minute, unsure what else to do. I allow her this before she goes back to bed. Tye is sound asleep when I check on him. I kneel beside his bed and watch his body so still it frightens me, though when I touch his hand he moves his arm closer to his side.

Bill has asked me to do the right thing. "For the good of WSPR," he insists. "We can't let Pilsmore take all of us down." Once the law suits are filed he wants me to say I knew of the data Pilsmore compiled which established Kokchure's higher risks, and that I'd kept these dangers a secret from the partners at WSPR in order to profit from running the campaign. "It's important, Henry," he reminds me of my personal commitment to utilitarian ideals. "In case you've forgotten," he says almost sternly, then adds just as fast, "We'll figure out a way to make it up to you, don't worry." He's silent for a moment, waits to see if I'll ask how much he knew exactly before assigning me the campaign, but I don't bother, not even as Bill clears his throat and says, "Alright then."

I leave Tye's room and stand in the hall upstairs. The moon is there outside the window, the wood floor cool beneath my feet. I move toward the light, stand staring in the direction of my wife's house. In exchange for going along with what Bill wants, I've asked him to take on the Sunny Meadows' campaign. "Of course," he promises. The request is but a small gesture on my part, is simply all I can think of at the time.

Andi turns off the lamp in the bedroom. I hear the rustling of the sheets. Outside, the streets of our little neighborhood are all silver and hushed. I place my hands on the glass, recall the expression on Byran's face just before I stopped staring through my wife's window and turned away, how exhilarated and at peace he was as he came and sat sideways in my wife's lap, smiling at me, not gloating but serene, as if we were sharing then a great gladness and all the world was happy and as everyone should forever be.