Two years ago, when Wendy was a cook for the United States Army in Fallujah, her vehicle rolled over an improvised explosive device, which destroyed her legs and burned five percent of her remaining skin. She counted herself lucky to have married a man—Guy was his name—who was still in love with her. Sure, Guy had had sex with other women while Wendy was in Iraq, and Wendy had had sex with other men over there, but for Guy it was women, plural, and for Wendy men, plural, so that the sex would remain more of a bodily comfort activity and not lead to love. After the pain from the burns and the stumps had mostly subsided, which took about a year—and it was an excruciating year, and the pain never fully subsided—Guy put Marvin Gaye’s song “Sexual Healing” on the new stereo he’d bought with the money the U.S. Department of Defense had given Wendy in compensation for the wounds she’d incurred while serving her country as a fucking cook, and he asked Wendy to “do a little striptease for me.” She didn’t pause for a second, or feel embarrassed, she just went for it. It was Wendy’s attitude, and the strange beauty of her new body—which Guy had bandaged and bathed and covered in ointment and lotion and lifted and dressed and undressed many, many times in the last year—that made Guy want her so very much right now. They’d barely even touched when they both came. They had a lot of sex in the weeks and months after that, though they learned to slow it down. Over in Iraq, all the men Wendy had had sex with were American except for one, who was Iraqi. She had come to believe that he was the guy who eventually made the bomb that blew her legs off and burned her. He had been an especially skillful lover and sometimes when she and Guy were going at it she inadvertently thought of the bomb maker and that intensified her pleasure. She knew better than to share that information with her husband, but she didn’t feel bad about it either. After all, besides that and the flashes of happiness with Guy, she felt bad on a daily, almost hourly basis about pretty much everything else.
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