The Miniature Wife
Gotham Teacher Manuel Gonzales recently saw the release of his short story collection The Miniature Wife and Other Stories
. The stories are literary, yes, but also bordering on science fiction. Perhaps “fabulist” is the best word for them. A scientist accidentally shrinks his wife. A man plots to steal a unicorn. Passengers find themselves stuck in an airplane holding pattern for twenty years. That kind of thing. As Marie Claire
declares, “Gonzales’ voice is so new and different and dazzling that you won’t be able to put down his book.”
Here is the opening of the title story:
The truth of the matter is: I have managed to make my wife very, very small.
This was done unintentionally. This was an accident.
I work in miniaturization and it is, therefore, my job to make everything smaller. I have developed a number of processes, which members of my staff then test. They will, let’s say, make a smaller hat box in order to test the process that I used to make a smaller hat. That is simply an example, of course. We do not actually make hats or hat boxes. I cannot disclose to anyone, not even to my wife, exactly what I make, or how small I make it. I can only say that I am quite good at my job, and I have moved quickly through the ranks and now head an entire department of miniaturizers.
And let me say this, too: I never bring work home with me, tempting though it might be. I have set strict rules for myself, the same rules I enforce on my workers. I can hardly afford to be seen as the employer who abuses his power. I do not make the boxes in my attic smaller to make room for more Christmas decorations. I have never made our winter wardrobe small in the summer or our summer wardrobe small for the winter. I rake and pile and bag the autumn leaves like anyone else does.
Still. There it is: my wife, shrunk to the height of a coffee mug.
What bothers me most about the current situation (not her size as I am quite used to seeing normal objects reduced to abnormal sizes, even to the point that I wake up some mornings overwhelmed by the size of everyday objects, alarmed even by the size of my own head), what bothers me most is that I don’t quite know how it happened. Otherwise, I would gladly reverse the process, as I have done time and again at the office. But, as there are many different means of making things smaller—the Kurzym Bypass, ideal for reducing highly complex pieces of machinery, for instance, or Montclaire’s Pabulum, which is the only process by which one might safely reduce inorganic foodstuffs, to name only two—and since this reduction was accidental and I don’t know how it was performed, I am at a loss as to how to bring her back.
Hence the dollhouse, something solid, fashioned of wood and constructed with her in mind. The enormity of our real house and its furnishings—craterous bowls, cavernous pockets, insurmountable table legs, and bathroom counters slick with puddle-sized droplets of water—fill me with a great anxiety. I have also, claiming allergies, given the cat to a friend and have refused to let the bird out of its cage. I should like to get rid of the bird entirely, but I know that such a loss would upset my wife, who is, at the moment, upset enough already.
Reprinted by permission of Riverhead Books
You can learn more about Manuel and his book here