It's about two weeks after the wedding that Anthony realises Johanna is not really all right.
It's something in the way she sits; the curiously stiff limpness of a porcelain doll. Her posture is made of impeccable steel, but her hands rest loosely in her lap: her arms are filled with sawdust, no wire even to keep them shaped, and her face is as immobile, as breakable as bone china.
His mother called her a lily of the valley. "She toils not, neither does she spin." Anthony's mother has worked every day of her life, her hands big and red from decades of squeezing moisture out of laundry.
"She's a lady," Anthony said, and his mother rolled her eyes.
Johanna is a still life painting. Anthony knows intellectually that she does move – has seen her move – and yet when he thinks of her, he thinks of a series of images, of portraits with thick gilded frames. Johanna reading, Johanna weather-watching. Johanna in repose, too, until she begins to dream and suddenly flings out her arm and smacks Anthony full on the nose.
"Ow," he says, bleeding into her handkerchief. "Thad urd."
"I'm sorry," Johanna says. She looks like an anguished maiden in a tragedy; her long hair tickles his shoulder as she bends over him. She's not real, Anthony thinks, but that's stupid; he can feel her warm breath on his face and the heat of her body this close.
"Was it a bad dream?" he asks.
Johanna doesn't smile. "Yes."
He doesn't ask what it was about, in case she tells him. Instead, he lets her tend to him and turns his mind away from statues, Madonnas and Mary Magdalenes; instead he focuses on the clumsy touch of her hands, the teeth marks on her bottom lip, the thin scar on her temple that creases when she's anxious. These are the things that make up Johanna, lest he forget.
"You will be all right," she says in her quiet way.
Anthony asks in return, "Will you be?" He doesn't know if anyone has asked her this before. For Johanna stares at him as if she doesn't understand, and he realises with horror that the answer is no.