He was not a man who could take a door off the hinges, trim it to size with a circular saw, and rehang it. He was not a man who would comfortably fist bump with other men in a room full of men who fist bumped. He was not a football player. He was not a badass. He was a man who liked lying in a hammock, who liked food and pleasure and who drank too much most nights not to gear up in a Stanley Kowalski way but to untether and unreel into bed and dreams. But in spite of what his wife, Kit, thought of him, he was not a pussy. He could rake a yard full of leaves into four lawn-and-leaf bags in under an hour. He could sit through a sleepless night on the bathroom floor cracking bad jokes while his three daughters took turns vomiting, at first every five minutes and eventually every thirty minutes until they were all asleep at dawn in a pile of pillows. He could manage a restaurant wait staff full of young and beautiful women and never once cross the line with even one of them. “There is strength, and there is strength,” is what Mike wanted to say to his wife. But months ago, years ago maybe, it seemed she had stopped listening.
Amy Stuber has been writing and publishing short fiction since the Bill Clinton years and has published in numerous journals including Other Voices, Antioch Review, and Ploughshares. She earned a PhD from the University of Kansas, taught for a decade at several universities, and now works as an education administrator. She lives in a small blue-dot college town in the Midwest.