The Spaceman’s Wives

The first wife liked to run, very fast. Sometimes she sprinted until it made her sick to her stomach, folding over her government- issue shoes and carefully avoiding dropping vomit all over them. Sometimes after her shift on the factory floor, she’d bolt into the flat and infinite fields surrounding the house she and her husband shared and keep going until she could no longer see the house behind her when she turned around. As if the house had completely stopped existing behind her. The husband’s job was to sit in a small metal capsule, like a badminton shuttlecock, and be sent out into space, to peek out of a small window and investigate the intimate behavior of planets. His wife’s task was to wait for him.
The first wife didn’t mind waiting. As long as they never asked to put her in that capsule.
The second wife was more resentful about being left behind. She was a hard worker, though, and channeled some of her anger into that set of actions, giving herself up to the swaying of the crops. She’d move into them, the wheat and barley, swinging her tool, cutting the stalks and pulling the fallen column to the side, moving into another golden wall. She didn’t tell the spaceman, but the work sometimes made her body feel light. She’d hover almost weightless, as if under the influence of an inebriating substance. Though at times it was not unlike a particular kind of nightmare. If she’d told him, the two of them could’ve marveled at the similarty of their sensations. Both of them giving in: to a narrowness of focus, to a forward motion not of their own making.

Hillery Hugg’s work has appeared in Guernica, 3rd Bed, American Short Fiction, The Lifted Brow, The American Reader, Caketrain, and The Believer. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University and an MA in English Literature as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas, Austin. She’s recently moved back to the United States from Wellington, New Zealand.