Her arm was in the air. She studied it - first lengthwise, then side to side with patient rotations, then by kneading and pinching it. She reached for her glasses. A focused inspection of the limb elicited a questioning 'Humph' and vague nod.
"Everything okay over there?" I said.
"...I was just wondering what body this is."
If a decision had been reached she was keeping it to herself. "What body is it?"
Her lips crammed together. "I don't know. I think it's in some sort of transition. But I can't tell from what to what."
I was quiet. She was occupied.
I talked first. "Maybe if you closed your eyes for five minutes and then looked at it, it would be easier to discern a change."
She weighed the suggestion. "No," she decided. "It'll take longer than five minutes. All I really need to know is what body this is. That's what I can't tell. Then I could probably figure out what body it'll turn into."
She let her arm drop and began feeling under the covers, closing her eyes so she could concentrate.
"Can I take a look?"
I peeled away the blankets. She continued to grope, poke and squeeze.
"It looks a lot like your body," I said.
"It is my body. But I don't know which body. Men aren't good at telling these things. All bodies are the same to them."
"No they're not."
"I mean, each individual body is the same to them. There's this body and then there's this body and then there's this body."
I didn't argue. "So ... how many bodies do you have?"
"...And you're not sure which body this is," I said, pointing.
"... So what are some of your other bodies?"
"Well," she began, twisting herself over so she could hold her head up and face me. One of her twenty breasts popped out from under the sheet, and she tucked it back in. "You want the whole story? All the bodies?"
A sigh and thought. "They started appearing when I was ... in my early thirties. Which was pretty good, actually. I had the same body all through my twenties and until I was almost thirty-three.
"My original adult body was tiny and tight and really quite wiry because of all the gymnastics in junior high and high school I did. That body, the high school one ... well, actually my adult body up until thirty-three was pretty much the same as my high school body, now that I think about it...yeah. Pretty amazing. My adult body was really a little girl's body. I'd never realized that....
"Okay, so sometime in my early thirties this other body appeared. It might have had something to do with my divorce. It was just a different body. It wasn't my body. I can't explain it. Then, a few years after that - the big, bloated body showed up. That was partly my fault, but not all. It was kinda' fun, actually. I liked it! I felt more powerful - you know, surrounded by all this ... dense stuff. I was more substantial. I didn't feel like someone was going to knock me over if they banged into me.
"Then I had my nervous breakdown. I'm pretty sure that's what it was, although it was never diagnosed. It didn't occur to me to go to a psychiatrist until after it was over. Then I went, and she said that's probably what it was. So ... after the nervous breakdown came the worst of the bodies ..."
"Hold on," I interrupted. "You skipped a body. What body did you have during the nervous breakdown?"
"I don't know."
"Oh. Okay. Go on."
"So after the nervous breakdown - or a year or so after it - I had this emaciated body. It looked a little like the wiry body - my original adult little girl's body - but it wasn't. This body was fragile and brittle. Ecch. I hated that body.
"Then I hit forty or so. Actually forty-four. And all of a sudden I had this real adult body. A grown-up body! For the first time in my life. I liked that one, too. It was ... very pleasant! A good, solid, no-nonsense go-to-work-everyday executive woman's body. A no-frills body. And it was easy to take care of - that's what I really liked about it. Just jump in the shower, dry off, and I'm out the door. Some of those other bodies - it took me forever to get them out of the house, or out of bed. Even the original adult little girl's body - I had to do the 'find the sexy clothes and put on the make-up and make sure the hair was perfect' thing. And let's see ... Oh, yeah -- the bloated body was hard because I had to figure out which of only two outfits that fit I was going to wear that day. Half the time I couldn't remember which one I'd worn the day before. It was a nightmare. And the emaciated body ... I just didn't want to go out of the house at all. I was afraid to.
"So where was I. Oh. The business woman's body. That lasted a couple of years. Then ... the wrinkly, old lady body showed up."
"I haven't seen that one," I said.
"You'll see it."
"Okay. But like I've told you, you have an incredibly young body for someone fifty-one."
"Thanks. So anyway," she went on, "The old lady body is ... well, just what it is. An old lady's body. That's the best I can describe it. And that lasted a year. And then ... came the bursitis/emaciated/old lady body. Ecch. That was thanks to all the gymnastics when I was young. If I had known. It's one painful body.
"But what's been happening the last three years is this: all these bodies - except for maybe the original adult little girl's body - come and go. One day it's one and the next day it's another. I never know which it's going to be. Sure, some of them - like the bloated body, for example -that takes a couple of weeks or a month to show up, which gives me enough warning beforehand so I can search around in the back of the closet and get out those old outfits and see if they need to be cleaned or anything. But most of the time the bodies come on very quickly - like in a matter of days or hours."
She stopped, rolled over on her back, and began to examine the inside of her thighs and stomach. Then she reached under and grabbed her butt. "Mmm," she murmured, as if on to something.
"So the good part of all this," I said, "Is that if I ever wanna cheat on you, I'll just sleep - with you."
"Yeah!" She giggled.
I smiled, and coughed. "That's ... not quite ten."
"There're more. I can't think of them all now. There's the electric body. It practically glows in the dark - and I can't get it to go to sleep. And then there's the super-sensitive body. You won't be allowed to touch me then. Don't take it personally."
"I won't. Now...let me ask you one thing. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe .... you might have ten brains and only one body?"
"... I have four brains."
It was getting late. After giving her forehead four kisses and her ribcage ten, I turned around and nodded off.