He was at it again, thought Sylvie, her husband talking of Her, the alien, the dream alien, and this of all times, with dinner guests to witness it, this being Thanksgiving no less, the table set the day before, the house cleaned last Sunday, the afternoon light bending in perfect golden shafts over their cleared place settings, the room smelling of warmth, mellowed perfumes, buttered dishes, wine, coffee. A pale pink rose petal had fallen from a low bunch of flowers gathered in a centerpiece and was tinged a slight brown against the cream fabric. Almost nothing was amiss.
Their guests were young, coiffed, and beautiful, supremely educated, their clutches firmly settling into the world. When they were at Abbie and Jake’s house this past summer, Sylvie had overheard her young handsome husband Brad speak of an alien having visited him in a dream to extract his semen. It was such a brief conversation sliver that folded back into the larger noise of the party that it did not hit her, the cut of it, until she turned the lock to Abbie’s tiny half bath, and then she felt her head turn heavy and she sat upon the commode, gripping the sink. Had he really said that? She asked him about it on their way home. He just shook his head, his eyes glazed over, but for Brad that could mean he just didn’t want to talk about it.
And now here it was again.
“She was there, beside me, last night. Sylvie was asleep and I tried to wake her.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure man, I’m sure you tried to wake your wife to tell her about the sexy alien babe,” said Jake. “You must be a baby daddy by now. They got your semen last summer.”
“What? What is this?” This from Rakesh who taught at the college. He and his fiancé were holding hands under the table but let go at this unexpected turn. They were newly arrived from India.
“We grow ’em rare over here,” said Jake.
“There are gods, there are other beings,” said Rakesh, trying to be helpful. “Perhaps this is what is happening to you.”
“I don’t know,” said Brad. “I’m just saying, this woman was with me last night, an alien. This was the same one from before.”
“Why I never heard – ” said Abbie. “Sylvie, is everything all right?”
The room was starting to shift a bit, Sylvie could feel it, they leaned in, their elbows pressed hard against her table, the floor length curtains sentries, the chandelier oppressive.
Sylvie tilted a dinner knife, unused and abandoned, so that it reflected Brad’s image. His head appeared football shaped, his neck bulbous.
“This feeling I have, it is like a unification,” he went on. “It is beautiful. I feel whole. I have a second life in that place. It is my real life, my actual life, my soul.”
“For fuck’s sake, man,” said Jake. He had known Brad since they were children. They ran an accounting firm together.
Sylvie retreated to the kitchen. Abbie followed. She held Sylvie for a while. She then poured her friend a glass of water. She asked Sylvie some questions, none of which Sylvie could answer. The dinner guests trickled away and Sylvie managed not to cry, not even for Abbie. Sylvie prevented Jake from calling the hospital. Abbie and Jake finally went home.
Sylvie sat up in bed that night while Brad drifted off. The shifting shadows from the trees outside created dark spaces and light. “Be gone,” she said, touching Brad’s forehead while she spoke, for she loved him no matter the alterations of his attractions, adventures, grotesqueries. “Be gone,” she said. “Mine.” And there was not a sound but the shifting leaves.