We were talking about getting pregnant like it would be a sitcom, with pancake breakfasts and laugh tracks and all that shit. Except one day she came downstairs and said, do you know how to do the Heimlich? And I said, I saw a video one time in health class and it seems pretty easy. And my wife, let’s call her Melissa, she said, no, we need to learn, kids choke all the time. So okay, that was fine, I said she could sign up for a parenting class, and I’d go with her.
She didn’t. Choking turned into drowning which turned into full blown heart attacks, and she registered for CPR training instead. She went each night to the YMCA in one of those little rooms they have for local teachers with the beige walls and gray carpets. She came home at night and practiced on me, which was kind of fun at first, her arms pinning me down, her long hair brushing my face.
She bought the first dummy a week after she got certified. It showed up in a big box coiled in bubble wrap and I said, what the hell is that? And she was like, it’s a CPR dummy, so I can practice. She took it out, this toddler-sized plastic thing with a gaping mouth, just the chest and face, brown hair and brown eyes, and she put it on the floor and went through the whole routine.
The next dummy came a few days later. This time, it was a man. I was like, what the hell, dude, why do you need an adult dummy? And she said, because adults need CPR too, what if your heart stops? I was like, let me die then, idiot. She didn’t think it was funny. She practiced, switching back and forth, and it was really weird watching me and my future baby dying there on the floor, and my wife trying to save us, humming that Bee Gees song the whole time.
That wasn’t so bad, even though I came home every day from the vet clinic tired and smelling like dog with my feet hurting and my head full of feline abscesses and rabbit breath and all I wanted to do was zone out, but instead she got another dummy, this time an older woman. She said, it’s your mom, you know she has high blood pressure. The next day, an older man appeared: her father, featureless and bland.
I begged her to stop. I was like, you’re ready, you got this. I thought about babies, and everything we’d need, diapers and onesies and changing pads and wipes, and all she could do was buy another dummy, this time her cousin, the one with diabetes. I pleaded with her, and she got another, her older brother, the marathon runner. She stacked them on the floor next to our bed, and at night her alarm would blare, and she’d jump up half-awake and start doing compressions, ah ah ah ah staying alive staying alive, sealing her lips to their rubber faces, and I’d shove my pillow over my head and try to pretend like she didn’t exist.
I don’t know what to do. She took a leave of absence from her accounting firm. I found another dummy on the kitchen table, that one looked like an old man, maybe an uncle. Something was very wrong, I was scared for her, and no matter how many times I told her I couldn’t handle the dummies, or the song, or the CPR, she kept getting more. I wanted to go to the movies and have sex and spend nights out to dinner with friends before we got pregnant and the baby came to end all that—but she said she couldn’t leave the house, who would save the dummies when their hearts gave out?
At the clinic, I spent my days dealing with sick, poorly trained animals, consoling their distraught owners, and doing my best to remain a human—but at home, my wife kept pressing her lips to gape-mouth things, over and over again.
I made mistakes. I mixed up the medicine for a parakeet with renal issues and a Doberman with gum disease. Sometimes, on my breaks, I caught myself humming and singing a little: ah ah ah ah staying alive staying alive. I hated that song so much, it made me want to crawl into the kennels and let the dogs lick my face to pieces.
Yesterday was the end. I got home and there were more, maybe five new ones, I think she got them from the medical supply store over near the Buck Hotel. She ran between them, humming, singing, ah ah ah ah, blowing, compressing, and she grinned at me, said, look babe, I can save everyone.
I turned around and left. I went to my mom’s house and cried and tried to explain, but she didn’t understand, she said, hon, she wants to protect the family.
I feel like I’m losing it. I want a divorce. I want to leave her, because I can’t spend another second near those things, with that song in my head, but I’m afraid that something terrible will happen, and I don’t know what to do. What can I do? I want my wife back.
ps, Okay something a little different this week. I want to stick with scifi/fantasy as much as possible, but the prompt this week was to write a Reddit r/relationships style story, and this is what came out. Hope you like it anyway. As always please share if you’re enjoying these shorts, and see you next week! - DC