96. Annette

Chapter 95


At some point she had gotten old, and she wasn’t sure when. Her husband had aged too, but only sympathetically. They still did most of the same things together, and she sometimes asked him to marry her again, which he did. Today they were watching a retrospective on the history of Superman in cinema. The Henry Cavill one barely rated a mention. Neither paid very much attention – she was draped across his shoulders on the couch with her hands resting around his wrists.

“You saw her today?” she asked him.

She felt his nod. His hair pricked at her face.

“How is she?”

Kyle Marshall shrugged. “She’s the same as always,” he said. “She’s having the time of her life.”

She made sure he felt her grin at the back of his neck. She kissed him.

“I’ve been thinking about her recently,” she said. “And Jim.”


“Yeah,” Annette said. “I miss him.”


“Do you?”

Kyle Marshall sat and tried to figure out if he could miss somebody. He decided that he could. He missed Jim quite a bit.

But by the end –

By the end Kyle would have killed him himself, if Jim had asked him to. And he wouldn’t have lost sleep over it.

If he slept.

They were quiet. Jim had gone too far by the end, Annette thought. You don’t come back from that – he said so himself. It was one of the very last things he had said, in fact. He went out with it on his mind.

It was tempting, for awhile, to say that Jim had died for the cause. He had died to kill Stagger Lee. This was basically true. Sure. She would give him that.

The wreckage left behind was something to see, though. And Jim Parsons had been a decent man, which made it worse. There was no void of morality to blame it on. He was just an old man who made a decision and stuck to it. He had become a quiet and pathetic kind of evil.

On the whole, she decided, martyrdom was a stupid, selfish idea – less so, now that they had the printing press and television, but still. It was stupid, and selfish, and it hurts the people you’re dying to help. People did it to make themselves into cowboys, she decided. To say well, at least I can die and have that mean something. It was a gross truth she had wormed out.

Then again, Izzy Parsons was having the time of her life, so maybe she didn’t know anything after all. She resolved to go see her someday, and talk about things. Catch up with each other.

She returned to the TV, where red and blue and yellow were living through an uncomfortable adolescence. She breathed deep, hugged her husband, and closed her eyes to go to rest a little. And to find the idea girl, who lived on Sunday’s shoulders.

Close the door and we’ll disappear

Close the book and we’ll disappear

Chapter 97

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