Their madness really did, at least, have the most perfect ears. Ruth Ann and Ira remarked on this phenomenon often, at first. Eventually they reverted to their usual conversations about their dinner plans, friends they rarely saw, and all the poor boring straight married women, but these conversations felt different after they created the madness, as if each line they spoke were a verbalized moment of silence in memory of the madness’ perfect pink ears.
They never argued anymore about whose turn it was to buy cotton swabs. The cotton swabs in their apartment were always overstocked.
Receipts lying around the house read, mince garlic / brocc bunch lb 1.2 / cott swab, or prescrip xan / lem lozenge / cotton sw, or even 9.4 gal unleaded @ 3.99 gal / cot swob. It seemed that the cotton swabs were always the last items scanned, as if whichever woman was making the grocery or pharmacy or gas station purchase felt unwilling to give up their gift for the madness, even for a moment to the cashier. The cotton swabs were sometimes normal and sometimes jumbo, sometimes 100-packs and sometimes 500-packs, but neither woman ever bought the cotton swabs with the pink plastic middles, which would have made the situation too perfect to stand.
During one of their monthly trips to the bar, Ira drank too many rum and Sprites and let slip to Ruth Ann how she felt disappointed when she saw that Ruth Ann had bought the off-name cotton swabs again, the ones that always gave way in the middle. Ruth Ann got defensive for a quarter of a second, enough time for their one remaining mutual friend from college to make a joke about Lesbian Bed Death that killed all conversation for the next quarter hour.
That night before bed, the two women found all of the cotton swabs in the apartment and stacked them in the madness’ cabinet below the sink so that they would be more easily able to see how many were left and stop buying so many boxes unnecessarily. The madness barely fit in the cabinet. Neither Ruth Ann nor Ira mentioned the madness, the friend from college, or any small frustration either one had with the other for four nights, instead playing Monopoly or a complicated card game and then having sex, no matter who won.
Every night they started in a different position, even when they had eaten a heavy dinner or Ira had sprained her wrist and it was raining. They pretended not to hear the madness whining from the bathroom. It was in their passion, after all, that they had forgotten to leave out a midnight snack, and that sort of forgetfulness can always be forgiven.
Bed Death? Ruth Ann planned to shout on the morning of the fifth day. They would laugh together and make pancakes, and that night, the women would rest.
If the madness whined at the foot of their bed, Ruth Ann would hit it with the lamp.