“So, are nymphs, like, a thing now?”
Poor Rob never could keep up with his wife’s fads. She was a Pinterest fan and in addition to her online virtual bulletin boards, she kept boards around the house. She’d pin up items currently capturing her interest. Today, the kitchen board was full of pictures of nymphs. At least that’s what Rob thought they were: bedraggled maidens in various forms of pastel undress pouting at the horizon.
“Don’t even bother to act interested,” Teresa said, not pausing as she mashed the potatoes for supper. “I’m just thinking of maybe redecorating Jenna’s room and these are some ideas.”
“Does Jenna like nymphs?” Rob asked.
“Jenna’s four. She likes purple sparkles.”
“You’re right. Maybe I’ll redo our bedroom instead.”
The thought of all those despondent creatures staring at him while he slept was creepy, but Rob had learned that discretion was the better part of valor. With any luck, Teresa’s attention would be caught by something else before she got around to their bedroom.
She was a serial re-decorator, deeply attentive to the latest trends. Teresa read shelter magazines and watched HGTV. She gobbled up the latest ideas and spit them back out in their house. Rob was used to coming home to a changed landscape.
“I don’t mind as long as you don’t ask me to do it,” he’d say.
Which she did not. She preferred attacking the projects on her own and was proficient with miter saw and power drill. Rob did often get stuck with clean-up. Teresa said it was the least he could do. His mother said he was a saint. His father said he was a chump. Rob, who preferred peace at almost any price, shrugged and said nothing.
They’d lived with farmhouse, loft, beach cottage, and mid century modern decor. He’d seen accent walls, chalk paint and apron sinks come and go. Now there was this nymph phase. He figured he’d just wait it out. It would pass, like the others.
But this one seemed to have legs. Months later, when Teresa did get around to redecorating their bedroom, it was all nymphs, all the time. The palest pink wall paint, gossamer bed linens, and a gallery of nymph pictures made Rob feel like a big, uncouth interloper in his own room.
One picture had eyes that seemed to follow him no matter where he was. She was a naiad, a nymph of water. She floated among pink water lilies, her long dark hair streaming, her skin glowing like a pearl. Whenever he looked at her, she was gazing right back at him. It gave him the wim-wams at first, but then he sort of liked it. He read up on nymphs in Wikipedia and began to think of the one in the picture as Athena. It was a pretty name, and she was Greek, after all.
He began to feel he wasn’t the only uncouth interloper in their bedroom. Had Teresa always been so…large? So muscled? Her face was ruddy, her hair as springy as wire, her feet like big white boats. What a contrast with the diaphanous ladies on the wall. With Athena. He wondered what had ever attracted him to Teresa in the first place. She, with her booming voice and skinned knuckles.
How restful it would be to come home to someone like Athena. To float among water lilies with never a thought of the electric bill or that funny sound the car was making. To be reflected in the gaze of someone eternally young and beautiful. He thought about it more and more.
So when he saw Athena in the street, he recognized her immediately. Her dress was made of some kind of pale, floaty stuff that swirled around her legs as she walked. Her tiny feet seemed to skim the sidewalk. She wafted along as though propelled by a gentle breeze. Enthralled, Rob followed. When she turned, looked into his eyes and parted her lips to speak, he leaned forward.
“Stop following me, you perv, or I’ll call the cops.”
Rob gave up nymphs then and there. Teresa was surprised when he suggested it was time to redo the bedroom.