Wrinkles, he explains to her. Craggy driftwood deposited on a windswept shore, twisting clouds reflecting the waning light at dusk, the exquisite randomness of the universe.
He refuses to iron his clothes. Who am I — a man, a son, a husband — to fight the second law of thermodynamics with a fifteen-dollar steam iron?
Indeed, she replies. Who are you?
They go to a marriage counselor named Roland. Every fifteen minutes, Roland takes off his eyeglasses and spritzes each lens with a fine atomized mist.
I’m sure you’d agree, says Roland, wiping his eyeglasses with a state-of-the-art microfiber cloth, that wrinkles are a surface phenomenon. Are there not deeper issues?
Roland regrets his question.
She looks downward, sighing. He looks upward, his eyes gleaming. They sit on an auburn-colored leather couch, side by side. The leather squeaks under their bodies as they speak, as they turn from each other to Roland and back again.
He says: the second law of thermodynamics states there is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state.
Our marriage, she says, is an isolated system.
He is now on to the audacity of suiter luggage. How you are supposed to fold your suit into your suitcase when you go on a plane or a train or a bus to a wedding or a funeral or a business trip. How when the suit is extracted from the suiter, the suit is always wrinkled. How wrinkles are physics and physics is God and the suiter is man’s folly and man’s folly is simply pointless.
She talks about how his favorite word is ‘pointless’.
Roland holds his eyeglasses up to the light. He wants to talk about how the sunlight streams through the window, illuminating the gyrating dust particles. How these dust particles, these silent assassins, float in the air searching for a place to perch, to disrupt. How it is impossible to eradicate every single one.
She looks down at her summer dress stretched over her knees, the pattern of flowers and stems, twisting and turning. She contemplates the randomness of conception, the cells within her multiplying, the paths not taken.