Ariel Andrew is a twenty-five-year-old writer based in San Jose, California. She is pursuing her master’s degree in creative writing with an emphasis in fiction from San José State University. Her work has been featured in Number One Magazine. She is originally from the Midwest, and she graduated from the University of Missouri, Kansas City in 201
Aaron threw up his hands, his unassuming gold ring glinting faintly in the dim light of the bedroom.
“I’m not saying he’s a good choice,” he said. “I’m saying that she’s not a good choice either. I’m trying to find the lesser evil. What will hurt us the least for the next four years.”
“Eight,” Lucy said. “The incumbent always gets it. In eight years, we’ll be in our thirties. These are formative years.”
“I can count, thanks,” Aaron said. It had been a long night, full of circles and planes of existence that didn’t quite touch, so they yelled at each other instead. Aaron and Lucy had been married for two years, relatively young newlyweds for their crowd. Millennials. Aaron would say it, even if Lucy refused to acknowledge the term, dodging any label with negative potential.
Aaron didn’t blame Lucy. She’d had a rough go—a conservative Christian upbringing that told her she was inferior but in a good way. Sexism in every variety. He hated how men looked at her sometimes, as if she wasn’t the intelligent, ferocious meteorite of a woman he’d married, but something flat. Something round.
Aaron considered himself on the better side of maleness. Pro-choice, anti-rape culture, never said cunt except that one time, when he was drunk, when he didn’t mean it.
But Aaron couldn’t open the favored candidate of his generation with open arms. The lies mattered, he thought. It’s insulting her intelligence as a woman to believe her, to chalk up those emails to her motherliness.
“No, what’s insulting is that you’d even look at the alternative,” Lucy said. She had moved from the bed to the cheap spinning chair by their Ikea desk. The chair twitched no matter how hard Lucy tried to be still, dominant, calm and domineering.
“All I’m saying is she’s already fucked up big time in the Cabinet,” he said. “He hasn’t had a chance to do that yet.”
“You’re fucking kidding me.”
“I’m not saying I agree with him at all. I think what he’s said is disgusting. But I don’t trust her. Not after Benghazi. Not after the emails.”
“You sound like a Fox News puppet.”
“You sound like a liberal media puppet.”
“Liberal media? Oh give me a fucking break. He’s a rapist, Aaron. He’s a rapist and a sexist and a racist. And people don’t give a fuck. They have arguments to counter these statements.”
Lucy looked at the ceiling. She was making her hard stare, the cutting glare saved for the rare moments when she held back tears.
“I didn’t think you were people,” she said. The tears came anyway. The spinning chair started vibrating with her silent, repressed sobs.
“I’m not people,” Aaron said. He hated when she cried. But he was furious with her, for not even bothering with his words. He was so angry that she had blocked him out, only listening to her own rage, the rage reflected in the women she knew, the women she didn’t. “I just don’t think she’s right, either.”
Aaron looked down at his blank mail-in ballot, the thick slices of paper that had started this whole argument. Lucy was voting on election day. Aaron savored his anger. She probably just wanted a sticker.
Lucy stomped into the shower, where she could cry freely. Aaron started filling in his arrows, the left-pointing signals that told him who he was, what he thought of his wife, if he was a worthwhile human being.
Lucy had been in the shower for twenty minutes when Aaron sealed the envelope. He went outside to drop it in the box, flick up the rusted red flag attached. That always made him feel so American. Here is my opinion, waiting to be collected and measured, it said, on the corner of a cul-de-sac where I rent a three-bedroom house with five other people. Here I am, performing my duty, scraping by. Alienating my wife for what?
Lucy was a heavy sleeper, especially after she’d been crying. She was fast asleep when Aaron came back in. Four hours later, when the gray light of dawn just made enough contrast visible to tell our differences, he heard her move. She got out of bed silently, barely leaving a dent where she’d been. She slipped on her shoes and left the bedroom. Aaron tried to breathe quietly, as if his quiet breath could compensate for the conversation that had ruined their night.
Lucy came back after a few minutes. She slipped into the twelve inches of bed farthest from him, keeping her body rigid and sideways. An hour later, she slipped out of the foot of bed she’d left for herself and went to work. Aaron laid in bed for some time, hearing his alarm bleep insistently. Then he got ready and left. As he pulled his beat-up nineties sedan out of the cul-de-sac, he saw that the mailbox flag was down.