They went up, up over the menagerie of hippos, lions, tigers. A giraffe licked her foot as the plane dipped and wavered and Lena thought of how delightfully treacherous it all was, the ferocious animals, the slender beasts with mile-long necks. If the plane went down in the middle of the savanna, both she and Derek would be eaten. She put her hand to her throat--this is where it begins, she thought-- the eating. They scaled another giraffe, up, up and she forgot about the neck and felt the glory of flight. Lena had thought she had seen a gate then, the same kind of wooden gate that existed in back of her yard that led to the woods. Could it be that the animals were that close when she walked the dog? Could it be that she would meet a lion or tiger on the trail? There were lions everywhere.
She and Derek were a bi-coastal couple. She lived on the East Coast and he on the West. They were returning from his place where she had recently threatened his ex-girlfriends with a bat. Lena laughed at the scenario now that she was safely on her way home. When they were taunting her from the lawn, she had asked him for a gun--it would be simpler with a gun--but he said no. He grabbed the wooden bat that he kept under the bed for intruders and shoved it at her. "Take it," he said. She took it. She went out and wielded the bat like a rapier. "Don't make me use this," she yelled, "because I will." The bunch of them in high hair and silver spandex and bangles flipped her the bird then drove off in a convertible. It may have been red. Afterward she went in, pleased with herself.
Derek watched the whole thing from the window and when she appeared in the bedroom, he went to her and kissed her neck with excruciating gentleness. He started to undress her. His hair was cut short now and she had the distinct memory of it when it was long and sensual, a river of curls. Lena, while being kissed here and there, tried to discern whether she still loved him now that he had short hair. She took his chin in her hands and looked directly at his face; he still had that pale skin of boy innocence. Then he said, "You know how I like it" and pulled her pelvis to him. "I want to slam you into the headboard hard."
She looked at him now with his eyes closed as the plane climbed in altitude away from the West and toward the East. She was no longer laughing; she did not tell him how much it hurt. She wondered if it was all worth it.