I met my wife on the occasion of our fifteenth wedding anniversary, in the middle of a terrible fight. It was a disconcerting way of meeting someone, but not at all rare, as it turns out. On the face of it, our meeting in that manner may sound like an improbability, but let me assure you it is the case. Imagine how startling it was for me. To that point, I’d lived my life in a normal, linear fashion, not even being aware of non-linear time. One moment, I was a college kid just about to celebrate his twenty-first birthday with the group of rowdy, drunken louts I considered to be my best friends, and the next I was forty-five, married, and being screamed at by a red-faced woman I’d never met. She had short, dark hair and gunmetal gray eyes, with full lips that pouted over her slight overbite. She was slender, bordering on skinny, with finger-long toes hanging over the ends of her sandals. All told, I found her to be a collection of individually unspectacular parts that somehow merged themselves into a brilliant, perfect whole.
“Are you even listening to me, you asshole?”
The jarring shrillness of that voice I immediately recognized as belonging to my wife, which was the most disconcerting aspect of the entire misadventure, even more so than being transported to some unknown town into a body that was as much a stranger to me as the woman in front of me.
“If you fucking want out, just leave!” she shouted. She was crying. Despite my odd attraction to her, I followed my better instincts, which were to turn and run. She stood behind me for a second and wiped her tearful eyes. That was followed by her running in front of me and shouting, “Don’t you dare walk out on me!”
I stopped, since I a) didn’t know where the hell I was anyway and b) wanted to be with her, though I wasn’t certain why. I looked around and tried to get my bearings. To my left was a narrow street paved with stones and lined with the kind of scooters that would have gotten you your ass kicked back home. The passage was bright, with the low angle of the sun suggesting late afternoon. I looked up, trying to gauge the architecture, but it was equally unfamiliar – buildings of ancient brick and crumbling masonry that were dotted by wooden shutters that led my eye around the curving structures to the shadowed street beyond. I returned my gaze to my wife, whose name I still could not recall. She’d stopped yelling and was watching me with some interest, her head cocked to the right.
Before I could react, she broke into a huge smile. “I’m Gia,” she said, “your um, wife.” I nodded in agreement. “You’re … Wesley. No, that’s not it … Will.” I nodded again, a gesture she returned. I’m not certain how I knew, perhaps the furrow in her brow or the way her eyes glanced along my torso as if sizing me up, but I was sure she was meeting me for the first time too.
“You yell at me a lot, don’t you?” I asked.
“Yeah. Sorry. I get mad easily.”
“It’s okay. I don’t think it bothers me.” There was a ten-second gap while we both tried to think of what else you’re supposed to say to a total stranger you can suddenly remember having sex with for fifteen years. “Your full name is Giovanna,” I said. She said it was and then we returned to looking uncomfortable. “How … ?” I stopped there. There were so many hows in my mind I wasn’t sure which one should come first. Though, in retrospect, I suppose it doesn’t matter in which order someone discovers the world is an unordered place.
(… to be continued)