The sister wives were in competition.
Battles had been waged over whose tits were perkier in their lace teddies, or which could get Daniel off the most times in a week. But Judith’s rotund stomach proudly poked forth through her billowy summer dress, and by the sisters’ standards, she was winning. By Saturdays, Daniel’s dick deflated and chafed. The Sabbath, his day off.
At noontime, the ladies sat outside around a bowl of ripened fruit, bananas browning in the heat. Rainbows formed at the bases of the water plumes the sprinklers spat forth, wetting the long grass. Judith’s belly had swollen and shrank two times before, and had a robust pair of boys to show for it. She rubbed her abdomen and beamed. “It’s the size of a plum now,” she bragged to Linda, who smiled back through gritted teeth. It was their code.
Judith peeled an orange she took from the bowl. “I never cared for plums. Too sour,” Linda said. Linda’s rutabaga girl was stillborn at 25 weeks. She was back to zero, and her stretch marks faded.
“You’re going to have to do some serious humping if you want to catch up,” Judith said, mouth full of orange pulp, champed bits flinging from her rouged lips. “Why don’t you take my nights this week? He’s filled me up enough.”
Daniel didn’t fuck pregnant women. It was something they both knew, something they looked forward to. “I appreciate the charity,” said Linda. The metal shackle around her ankle caused her lower leg to sweat and itch. She reached for a small twig next to the foot of her chair, stuck it between the metal and her skin, and scratched.
“You ovulating soon?” Judith asked.
“This week,” Linda answered.
“Good luck,” Judith said. “Tell the other girls ‘hi’ for me when you go back down.”
At two o’clock they heard him coming. Daniel jingled when he walked, a coil of antique keys dangled on the belt loop closest to his groin. The long brass one was for Linda. She could hear from a distance that it wasn’t on the chain. The sisters exchanged a look of understanding as Daniel’s calloused hands pinched the spaces between Linda’s neck and shoulders as he stood behind her.
“Did you enjoy your outside time?” Daniel asked, his peppermint breath lingering near her face. Linda nodded. He knelt down beside her, his nose at the level of her leg; he smelled her skin, pressed his lips against it. He undid her shackles and she rose from her seat. “Next week you’ll see my Queen again,” he said as he pulled Linda into the house. In the basement, Linda didn’t huddle with the other women. Instead, she lay on her cot, shut her eyes, and prayed for pregnancy, death or redemption.
Brittany Connolly is a recent graduate of Tusculum College where she majored in creative writing. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Tampa, while still managing to live in the hills of Greeneville, Tennessee. She is 23 years old, an avid cat devotee, and a lover of all things creative, bizarre, and fabulist.