Larry Page is stuffy. He stands, walks to the sliding glass door, flicks the lock and steps outside. There is a hot tub. There is all-weather furniture. There is a redwood cabana made by a Native American who carves imposing women from fallen redwoods, to Larry Page’s concern.
The patio is wood. They had considered faux for its weather resistance, shine, longevity. But his childhood patio had been real wood. He’d helped his father build it. The splinters in his feet had taught him something about suffering and responsibility. Larry removes his phone from his pajama pocket. He pans left, then right. The sun comes in bars of gold that split the trees and speckle the patio. He presses the phone’s screen where a button should be. The phone clicks where a lens should be. Larry Page has not made love to his wife in ninety-two days.
Larry Page can sense her unease. Tonight, before turning off their matching lamps on their respective bedside tables, he will think back to their disagreement, how time slowed as she moved along the yellow arrows, mispronouncing Swedish cabinets, touching couches, bookshelves, dishware.
The disagreement, which appeared like sudden rain but had approached from afar like slow-moving weather, culminated in Larry making a let’s-not-make-a-scene expression, while Lucinda said with her eyes, one eye, actually, that she was open to fighting right there.
That night on the phone, Lucinda will mention the thing about the lamps to her sister, and in an effort to seem past it, quickly change the subject to a mutual friend’s divorce, though it distresses her to think that the question of the lamps points to something impassable and unfixable—because yes, he prefers matching lamps, and yes, matching lamps are more sensible, though it would be nice if he would allow for a little diversity.
There are small problems between them, problems when seen all at once and lit up like stars might illuminate a pattern. Problems that come from love or chemical imbalances.
Larry looks out at the forest and down at his feet. He drags the edge of his foot. He kneels down and scrapes his knees against the wood, then bows down, touching his forehead to the deck, rubbing back and forth, the splinters reminding him of what is important.