He had killed someone once. She thought about this at night. When it was cold, and she’d press against him, she’d think, “This is the back of a man who has killed someone.” When it was hot, and they lay side by side not touching in the sticky heat, she’d think, “He has killed someone. A man who has killed someone is an arm’s length from me.” If he muttered in his sleep, she thought it memories. When he slept without a bump or snore, she marveled that he could.
He’d been drunk. It was a county where people drove tractors on the road with beer in make-shift cup-holders, it wasn’t a big deal. And he’d held the school record for touchdowns.
He’d been driving his truck, it was white. It was snowing. She pictured big flakes coming fast, like hyperspace against the windshield. She could hear the “shh shh shh” of tires on snow and the squawk of the windshield wipers. He’d been driving on that big curve that led out of town, and he had to get home before curfew. There’d been a party, the whole high school almost, down at the old bridge. And when the snow started, they all piled into their vehicles. He was a fun-loving guy, she could picture him in his varsity jacket, his red hair catching giant snowflakes. He was the last one out on the road, on that big curve, and they were all driving so slow in their bald tires and 2-wheel drive. He drove like a rich kid even now. He’d passed a long line of cars, seven cars, eight, maybe ten. And the last car was turning left and he didn’t see it until he hit it. Maybe not even then. His headlight nearly split the other driver’s head. It was a girl, and she died right there in the corn-stubbled field and the boy who was with her was badly damaged. And Clay, he’d killed that girl and put that boy in a wheelchair and in the wreck, he’d bitten his tongue.
She thought about it from across the room, watching him sleep, how he’d bitten his tongue but nearly decapitated the girl, crushed the other boy.
She thought about how he still drove a white truck. How he’d put a plow on the front of it in winter and drive all night in the snow, looking to pull people out of the ditch to make a few bucks. She hadn’t known him then, when he’d killed someone. She only knew him now.
When the spring comes and it’s not so cold, she said to herself. When the spring comes, I’ll leave him, this man who has killed someone. She looked out over the fields, watched the relentless snow, diamond under the floodlight, the night depthless beyond the sparkling circle.
“Come to bed,” he said.
It’s cold, the house is cold. In the spring, she thought, in the spring.