I very much appreciate Mr. Greenland’s prose and descriptive skills; the world of this story is quiet and poised, with nothing superfluous. The premise, I’m afraid, annoys me a bit. A housewife has a brief affair with her cat. Are there really stay-at-home housewives left in the world? I suppose there must be, since we still see them all the time in fiction…but my mom gave up professional mothering when I was ten, and I haven’t met another since. This story takes place over three days, and the woman doesn’t seem to leave the house once. How is that her husband’s fault? He’s not even there most of the time. Are there no devoted, supportive husbands capable of fulfilling their wives’ emotional needs? I take exception to that. I’d like to think I am such a husband.
“Pallas at Noon” uses this same situation–smothered housewife tempted to transgress– only there I’m not nearly as bothered by it, since both husband and wife are painted for us as individuals, rather than representatives of a type. In “Timothy”, neither husband nor wife has any past we are aware of. Then again, maybe I’m not supposed to be trying to appreciate them as individuals. Maybe they are “oppressive husband” and “smothered wife” in the way of “bored sorority girl” and “plumber”–though in a less raunchy way. One could look at this story just as a subtle bit of erotic roleplaying, designed purely to titillate and amuse. In which case I think it succeeds admirably, with a hell of a lot better writing than I would normally expect out of a story with that purpose.