The Glass Wife

Lydia Copeland

I had a wife who was made of glass-glass bones, glass lips, glass all over. She was a marvel in the truest sense of the word. She was my second wife and had a pretty child's nose, which was my favorite kind of nose and one of the reasons I took her for my wife in the first place. She was so dainty that on first encounter people often mistook her for a doll, one of those stiff porcelain dolls with the startled expressions. When she walked she clicked across the floor because she was made of glass and glass is not quiet, though it may sound beautiful and fragile.

When we met she was a living, breathing history book full of treaties and names of ships. She loved to quote famous authors. It was always Twain this, or Eliot that. Some people found this trait annoying, but when your wife is made of glass and has a precious tiny nose, it can be quite cute. She claimed to have aunts and uncles from Alsace-Lorraine. Her own parents-she told me- were Alsacian, which made her unique among American citizens.

After we married, we talked about what our children might look like. We worried over whose genes would win out, she being a glass-marvel and all. Would our babies be wholly glass and too fragile for dancing or would they made of soft skin and cartilage? In the end curiosity won out and we decided to give it a go. We had three boys, identical triplets but the doctors told us that all of her future pregnancies would most likely be multiples since she was made of glass through and through with glass ovaries that produced only highly fragile glass eggs.

Our triplets were a natural phenomenon-all flesh and bone except for their fingernails and toenails, which were glass, and made for a difficult childhood. Sports of any kind were out of the question. This was a great disappointment for me since I had always wanted to father a whole team of child athletes, or at least enough for an outfield. Instead, our boys read books and learned second languages like Norwegian and Portuguese. They inherited their mother's knack for historical information and memorized the Magna Carta and the Beatles songbooks in their entirety. One of our boys grew up to be a sign language interpreter-the finest in his field- which was lovely because of his beautiful fingernails that sparkled as he signed the alphabet. All the deaf schools said they wanted him for a representative but most of the time he ended up being a hand model for their brochures. Our other two boys also acquired a sort of local notoriety, one as a musical conductor, the other as a jeweler crafting knock-offs of famous pieces like Mary-Lou Retton's engagement ring.

When our children left the house and went out into the world to enjoy vacations and successful careers, my wife and I began what I refer to as the Great Decline of Our Marriage. We no longer knew how to be with each other and were shy in our own home. She stayed in the bedroom watching talk shows and music videos throughout the day while I mowed the lawn or polished the silverware. We had several years of such discomfort, of rarely speaking to one another unless one of us needed the salt at dinner or wanted to know the whereabouts of some household item like the phone book or the extra pillowcases. And then one day my glass wife told me that she was in-love with our cable man, who was the reason she stayed in the bedroom with the television on. I was astonished at this news. I thought I was the only man who loved her in a sexual way. We were in the kitchen when she broke it to me. I was heartbroken, naturally, but I was also angry and in my rage I pushed my glass wife into the refrigerator, at which point she broke her tailbone and the thing just fell off, like a real tail, and shattered on the kitchen floor.

I felt pretty bad about what I had done to her, but her reaction was completely unwarranted. It was only a tailbone after all and people break those everyday all over the world. Besides, she was always breaking things like my expensive stereo tuner and my ceramic flowerpots. This tailbone was just another in a long list. After beating me with a dishtowel, she locked herself in the bedroom where I imagined she packed a suitcase and maybe starred at the wallpaper for a while before climbing out the window and clicking down the driveway.

It has been years since she left me and I haven't seen her in all that time. Though she does occasionally call me to discuss the children's latest achievements. I have since married a very unremarkable woman, who, aside from her stunning knowledge of tree species, shall remain unremarked upon. The triplets are the only children I have and they each look exactly like me, except in the hands-which remind me how much I miss my old wife and our life together.

Lydia Copeland lives in East Tennesse with her fiance, Thomas, and their dog, Georgia. She is a recent graduate of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi and is the first place recipient of Glimmer Train's award for new writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Product, Reed Magazine, Eyeshot, Monkey Bicycle, JobStories, and one of her stories was nominated for the Best New American Voices Anthology. She is the occasional Fiction Editor for Dicey Brown Magazine and teaches English part time at Northeast State Community College. She also works in a very beautiful public library.