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Husbands, Wives, Husbands, Children, and Wives photo

The lamenting husband was lamenting again. Not another husband, he was crying, shaking his head. A tiny husband lay in a pool of blood beneath him.

A friend attempted to comfort him.

I don’t understand, said the husband, what am I supposed to do with all of these husbands—and the wives?

How many wives do you have now? his friend asked.

Seven, or eight. And twice as many children, or three times, I’ve lost track.

I’m sorry, his friend said.

I just keep creating, the husband said. And now my children are having children, plus my wives are having more wives. And I have just had another husband! And some of my wives are having husbands, the husbands children of their own, and it just goes on and on.

Yes, this friend said.

And, then, how is one to know one’s place in the family?

That can be quite difficult, his friend said, to be unsure of one’s role, where one fits in the overall family scheme, I mean. Think of me, this friend said. I was recently supplanted from my place by a very aggressive wolf.

Yes, the husband said, attempting to compose himself. And how are you doing?

I have adapted, but it has not been easy.

I have done nothing but adapt! the lamenting husband shouted. In one role, I am submissive, in the next dominant. And then a great strain showed on his face, his mouth contorted in a violent and afflicted way and a loud popping sound was heard. A moment later, squatting on the ground beneath him--another husband. Twins! the husband cried.

And, meanwhile, what of my painting? the husband lamented, now cradling the two husbands in his arms, or perhaps being cradled in the arms of one of the husbands. You just don’t know how it is, he said. But it was unclear to his friend which of the husbands was speaking and which was weeping. He would begin to reply to one, but then stop himself and begin to reply to another, until he could no longer reply at all.

image: Jac Jemc