The house is in the desert. The desert is hot and dry. In the desert, the sun is yellow and is round like a ball. Hugh builds his house in the desert. Hugh has a mute wife who stands in the kitchen and looks out the window. It is spring but it looks like winter. Or fall. Hugh’s wife is Stacey. Stacey is not white but Hugh tells his friends that he will make her white. Stacey sometimes cries in the bathroom but she doesn’t make any sound.
The walls in the house are thin and have holes in them. The holes come after storms. Storms are when Hugh gets angry and makes holes in the walls. He tells Stacey that they are his storms and that she bruises like she is almost white. But you don’t yet bruise like you are white, Hugh says. Hugh wonders when she is going to be white.
Hugh has two children with Stacey. They make the children in the garage. Stacey does not like to make children with Hugh and she tries to make him stop. But Hugh won’t stop. White women wouldn’t make me stop, Hugh thinks. Hugh slaps Stacey. Stacey doesn’t cry. She looks at Hugh and her eyes twinkle. Her eyes twinkle like two little stars. Hugh hates stars. You are laughing at me, Hugh says. Hugh slaps Stacey and Stacey runs out of the garage. She hides in the bathroom and cries. She doesn’t make any sound when she cries because she is mute.
If only she were white, Hugh thinks. He puts on his clothes and walks outside. He smokes a cigarette. It is almost morning. The desert light is pink on the rocks and it looks like Mars. The desert is soft like it has arms in the morning.
Later in the year, Stacey has two children. Maybe Hugh won’t want more than two children, Stacey thinks. Hugh names the children Stan and Arnie. Stan and Arnie grow fast and begin to look like Hugh. One day, I will have to murder my children, Stacey thinks. She walks into the kitchen and shakes her head.
When Arnie is five, he throws rocks at chickens and lights himself on fire. He does not die but he looks funny because he is a little burned boy. Maybe I won’t have to kill Arnie, Stacey thinks. When Stan is seven, he is expelled from school because he is caught in the bathroom with another boy. Arnie won’t tell Hugh what he did. What type of children did you give me, Hugh asks his wife.
Hugh and Stacey are in the garage. Stacey is a mute. Hugh wants to make her round. Stacey is bruised and she does not want to be round. She shakes her head. Hugh hits her. Arnie and Stan are outside. They hear Hugh hit Stacey.
Hugh hits Stacey, Stan says.
I know, Arnie says.
He shouldn’t hit Stacey, Stan says.
What did you do with that boy in the bathroom, Arnie asks.
Nothing, Stan says.
Stan is short. He has his hands in his pocket and he looks at the ground. Arnie does not go to school because the other children call him freak and push him on the ground and kick dirt in his face.
Do you think they would kick me still, Arnie asks.
Yes, Stan says. They are meaner now.
Oh, Arnie says. His face is always going to be crinkled like a raisin.
Hugh hits Stacey again. Stacey looks at Hugh. She takes off her clothes and puts her hands on her side. It is quiet in the desert because there is no wind. There is no sound in the garage and Arnie looks at Stan. Stan looks at the ground.
I think Stacey stopped, Arnie says.
I think we are going to have a brother, Stan says.
Will I still have to stay at home, Arnie asks.
You will always have to stay home, Stan says.