2009 -- 1.2 (Spring) Fiction

Moving by Taryn Alexander

 With a loud clamor he let the box tumble to the floor.

“Please be careful with my books, George, I don’t think they’re packed well enough to drop like that.” I had a feeling of anxiety in my stomach; my tattered horror anthology was in that box, I didn’t know how much more abuse it could take.

“Lilly, you have too much junk,” George groaned as he unloaded the moving truck.

I couldn’t help having so many volumes of text; I worked at a used book store. He didn’t have much to move in at all, just what he had in his dorm. I truthfully had a lot of things to bring to the house: oil paintings, cookbooks, my fiction collection, furniture, and curios passed down through my family.

 “Well, most of it is stuff we can both use, the bed and table at least. That’s what’s taking up most of the room in there.”

It took both of us, straining, to move my antique four-poster bed upstairs in its four main sections. Since the bed was so old it wasn’t rightly stable, but it wasn’t getting rocked too much lately anyway.

It was stifling in the brick walled room as George walked in the kitchen door. He set my pots and pans down roughly, and went to flip the light switch to turn on the florescent behemoth. And nothing. I was sure the realtor had turned it on when she showed us the house. I went over with a scrunched face to examine it. I returned it to the off position and flipped it back up. It worked perfectly.

George gave me a questioning look. 

“It must be the old wiring, it probably dates back to the fifties,” he told me expertly and nodded.

We went shopping for furniture and miscellaneous things for the house that evening at a thrift shop. We still didn’t have a microwave. I found one that wasn’t the latest innovation in baked potato factories, but it had a popcorn button and that all I ever needed anyway.

“This one’s kind of nice; it’s only a couple of years old,” I said as I pointed it out to George.

“It doesn’t even have a defrost function.”

“I think it’s cute.” The faded orange paint shone like the skin of a ripe tomato in the shop’s lights.

“Lilly, that thing could have belonged to my great grandma.”

     “It’s probably the best we can afford right now, I wouldn’t mind using it.”

     “That thing really looks like an old piece of junk, that’s probably why it’s here.”

     “Come on, George, it’s the only one that really stands out.”

     “Whatever, the kitchen’s your domain anyway. If it blows up it’s your problem.” He shrugged and walked away.

     George was never really helpful when we went shopping anyhow. I had picked out almost everything we owned, right down

to the pictures on the wall, with the exception of the Bond Girl posters. Not my cup of tea really.  

When we came home George said he was going to shower and go to bed. Only seconds later I heard a slight yelp and the door of the bathroom fly open.    

 “There must be something wrong with the hot water heater. This house is all faulty wires and poor craftsmanship. I’ll have to call someone to fix it in the morning,” George said, his chest red from the blistering shower.

     “It was fine when I was in there this afternoon.”

     “You can see that it wasn’t fine just now.” He motioned to  his burn marks.

     “Well, let me find a screwdriver and I’ll see what I can do.”

     I turned the breakers off and unscrewed the panel. The thermostat was at a normal setting. Just incase the scale of it was off I reset the dial cooler.

     While he was at work the next day I made dinner. I had bought a new cook book and found his favorite food: cheese soup. This was the first time I’d made it. He told me he would be home at five thirty, so I had dinner almost done by then. I wanted to surprise him. It was a difficult dish because, if you stopped stirring it, the flour and cheese would coagulate and become chunky.                    

By six twenty I was still standing by the pot. Stirring.

When George got home around six thirty I was upset but glad he was finally home.

     “Hey, George. How was your day?”

     “Fine, I guess,” he said passively as he walked by me.

I was still concentrated on not letting the soup seize up. My back turned, he slunk in to the bathroom, I only knew because I heard the door shut.

     I thought it best not to bother him; he could have a really upset stomach. Who wants to be questioned while they’re trying to expel a demon?

I brought a bowl of soup and some French bread and placed it on his side of the table. I went to go get dish out my serving. He had come out of the bathroom and was eating on the couch and looking at something on his computer. He was already half way done with his when I got to the door way.

     “Why didn’t you wait for me?” He turned and looked at me nervously while clicking quickly.

     “Oh, sorry, I forgot,” he said without sounding apologetic at all.

     “I’ve asked you before to wait for me. You know how it makes me feel.”

I sat next to him on the couch. There wasn’t any point of eating at the table any more; the atmosphere I wanted for the dinner had been ruined.

     “So what are you looking at?” I stretched to see the screen, balancing my bowl carefully.

     “Oh, I’m just loading something for us to watch during dinner.”

     As I looked to see what the dinner feature would be. In the search bar I read something that was surprising, he must have forgot to clear that out.

     “Really? You’re looking up hentai? Now? Porn?”

     He reddened and gave me a helpless look.

     “I just made you dinner, I put a lot of effort in to it and that’s how you’re thanking me? By fantasizing about some weird bondage fetish?” I gave him a defeated look.

     He went to get up, escape the situation, and the cord on his computer tripped him up. He must have forgotten he plugged it in. He looked at me, flustered, and stumbled over the ottoman to the leather chair. In his spell of clumsiness he still managed to save his computer from the floor.

     Later that night I questioned him about it again.

     “You haven’t had time for anything with your work lately. Not cleaning, helping me unpack, or even sex; but you had time for cartoon porn. Not your real, live fiancée?”

     He was starting to get ready for bed. He had taken his watch off and upon hearing me chucked it at the bureau, denting the aged wood.

     “I need some time to myself, it’s not all about you,” he said as he took off his belt.

 “I just wish you’d acknowledge me.” I watched him unbutton his now wrinkled white shirt.

“I’m really busy. You don’t give me any freedom. You expect all of these things from me! How do you imagine I can get it all done? Do you know how hard I work?” There went his shoes, one then the other kicked off in to the wall.

The walls shook from the impact.

I just stared at him, I didn’t know why he was so upset, I didn’t ignore his efforts and masturbate in the bathroom while he made dinner. Where the hell did he get off trying to blame this on me?

“You go to work, so what? I go to work and school and still find time to take care of you.” I folded my arms across my chest.

George removed his socks as I turned and left. My eyes were welling up.

“You have no respect for me,” he yelled. Without hesitation or thought he slammed his fist in to the wall, knuckles forced deep in to drywall.

The walls shook, the pictures fell off the walls. My favorite portrait of him took a dive off the end table and glass shattered. From the kitchen I could hear the microwave start to screech in its electronic voice and the refrigerator shudder and stutter. I turned to go back to the bedroom.

“Respect for you? How could I at this point? Where’s your respect for me? I’ve tried and tried to fix us, it’s not worth it.”

Pouting, he sat heavily on the bed. With that last action the rickety thing finally gave way under his angry mass. The headboard split in half as the bed collapsed. One of the posts fell across his skull. There wasn’t much blood to clean up.