by Laura Loomis
No, itís fine, needles donít bother me. You donít even have to
pretend it wonít hurt a bit.
My husband Roy, he hates needles. Itís one of the few things heís completely
irrational about. When he needs vaccinations to travel, you practically have to
strap him down. He wouldnít get a flu shot last winter, and he wound up getting
really sick, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, the works.
Ow. No, that was my fault, Iíve been kind of shaky. I keep forgetting to eat.
Iíll hold still this time. How long does it take to get the results?
Itís really been bothering me, these last few days. Roy getting that flu, I
What sort of risky behaviors have I engaged in? I had sex with my husband.
Just, you know, sex.
No, we never did that.
What were his risky behaviors? Roy told me he used condoms every time, for
everything. Whatever "everything" means.
No, I didnít ask him oral or anal or whatever. His exact words were that heíd
been "doing things" with other men. Roy is normally very precise with language.
A linguist, actually. Heís one of those people who knows the difference between
lie and lay.
I didnít ask Roy if heís been tested. He doesnít even know Iím here. That would
be like an accusation, like telling him I still donít trust him.
I donít believe I just said that. Of course I donít trust him. Iím going to
spend the rest of my marriage trying not to panic every time one of us gets a
cough. If there is a rest of my marriage. Staying with Roy now is risky
Weíre talking about something that could end my life, and I donít know if I can
believe anything he tells me. He says heís stopped, he says he used protection,
but how do I know?
This is a man I would have trusted with anything. Did you ever see the first
Superman movie, with Christopher Reeve? The part where he turns the earth
backwards, turns back time to bring Lois Lane back from the dead? Thatís the way
Roy loved me.
And something in him was stronger than that love, something he couldnít stop.
Fourteen years and you think you know what youíre doing, and now suddenly I
donít know which way the earth is spinning. Itís stopped and thereís no gravity
and everythingís falling onto the ceiling and you just want to hang on. Am I
making any sense?
I thought we had a good marriage. We have a son. I canít think about this. Canít
think about what would happen to him without us.
Oh god, does Andy need to get tested too?
Fourteen years. Weíve been married fourteen years. Andyís eight. I donít even
know how long Royís been...doing things.
Iím sorry, Iím not usually like this. Could you hand me those tissues? Thanks.
Even when I thought it was another woman, Iím thinking, midlife crisis, Iím not
giving up on this marriage without a fight. But when he told me, I swear, it was
like watching the man I knew disappear in front of my eyes.
The thing is, he really does love me. I love him. That hasnít disappeared. I
almost wish it would, because right now Iím living on that numb feeling, like
being on Vicodin or something, and sooner or later thatís going to wear off and
Iíll see whatís left.
No, Iím all right. Iím ready. Tell me.
Laura Loomis is a social worker who lives in the San Francisco area with
her partner. Her fiction has appeared in FLASHQUAKE, OUT OF LINE, MARGIN, and ON
THE PREMISES, and is forthcoming in THE FIRST LINE. "Tested" previously appeared
in ALALIT. "Tested" is part of a novel in short stories, for which the author is
seeking a publisher.