He leans against the barn’s wall, a soft man with Bambi eyes. A decade ago, he converted this barn into his wife’s studio. He didn’t expect thanks. She’s talking to potential donors about her latest project: modified scouting photos from an old Altman film, her “inadvertent archive.” Pure energy and small as a magpie, she talks of “invisible labor” and “appropriation art” and Hollywood ruin. He could move on. Ten years of no children and her stalled career. He’s sure she’d be fine without him. Even at forty, his body’s ready for singing—for pool parties and cocktails and abandon.

J. Annie MacLeod is a writer and English professor who specializes in fiction, Victorian mass culture, women writers, and the literatures of food. The author & co-editor of five books, Annie is a former Fulbright Scholar to both Slovenia and the Netherlands as well as the winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award, called the “Nobel prize for teaching.” Annie also produces lecture series for The Great Courses and Audible—her newest is “Books that Cook: Food and Fiction”—and she’s published numerous short stories in journals from Story Magazine to Versal to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Instagram: instagram.com/j.annie.m/. Website: jennifercognard-black.com.