They tell her not to have the anger because the anger is calling to their own and all their softness and the joy they keep mirroring for each other and demanding from each other is getting cloudy and gray. "Anger is not good for you, Cathy," they say, but they're wrong.
"Actually, Sheila? Anger is excellent for me."
"We get sick alone," they say, "We heal together." But they're wrong.
"We get sick alone. We live alone, and we die alone."
But, they ask, and to this she has no answer because it's a question she can't afford to ask and it's one she's practiced this week and she didn't like the answers so she doesn't like the question, but this is how it goes:
"Don't you want someone in your corner when that happens?"
Aren't you built for two?
Back home Paul has transformed the living room into Fort Lauderdale. A wealth of seashells leads up the steps and down the hall, all the way to the living room. Two cabana chairs, fruity drinks, a pile of sand, a big umbrella.
"Imagine the overwhelming scent of Coppertone. You with a sunburn across your adorable cheeks, and me with some semblance of a two-pack. Catherine Elizabeth Tolkie?" He kneels on the sand, hurting his knee again. "The moment I saw you at the Student Union, putting up posters for the Spring Fling, I knew I loved you. I loved the way you put up your posters really neatly with your staple gun, and I loved the way you laughed when you realized they were upside down."
She smiles, she weeps, she sits on the floor and looks into her husband's eyes. Hiding nothing, protecting nothing of herself. Bent into shapes by his words.
"I loved that underneath that shell of a curmudgeon lay the heart of a girl who loved to dance, and fling."
It goes on. He crawls closer, across the sand, toward her anger and her sadness and her desperate, aching loneliness, until she could crawl into those arms. The second he gets to her, she thinks, she'll having nothing left. She will give in, she will get him back in the house, they will figure it out, she will be weak just long enough to let him in again and start the clock on his heartbreak, because underneath that shell of strength lies the heart of a girl. A girl built for two.