Room by Ross McMeekin
As Mauve stacked pages and pages of coupons in the cupboard beneath the sink and then in the basin of the sink and then along the tile counter next to the faucet and on up to the shelves, she imagined the people in the design departments who created these advertisements, and how they fiddled with the visuals on their computer screens–mice sliding beneath their palms–and how they met to decide where the bread loaf discount should rest relative to the boysenberry jam two-for-one. As she stacked, they were almost in the room with her, the people.
As Mauve dollied dozens of old lawn and patio recliners up to the attic to be folded and packed away, first to the corners–floor-to-ceiling–then inward, until the attic was filled all the way to the center hatch, she imagined the size and shape and weight of the people whose bottoms had stretched the candy-striped vinyl on the recliners, stretched it to the point where vague dips formed in the middle. She thought of how the expansion turned the blue vinyl to turquoise, orange to yellow, red to pink, and so on. And she could somehow feel their warm bodies in the attic with her, these people who had lounged on these recliners during warm summer days, palms wrapped around sodas, enjoying a few deserved hours of leisure, a peaceful break.
When Mauve had filled the house so full she could no longer walk inside, she stuffed used drumheads through the windows, all the while scanning the scuffmarks on the surface of each and imagining in which clubs they rang out and with what bands and to the enjoyment of which couple in the crowd on their first date. She could almost hear the musicians playing, as well as the sweet, awkward words the couple yelled at each other over the loud music.
And when Mauve, as her last task, stood on the roof with milk cartons full of empty bottles and dropped them one-by-one down the chimney with a clink, she pictured how the chapped lips of their previous owners had wrapped around each soft, glassy brim, and she imagined how satisfied the people must of felt having their dry pasty mouths filled with cold sweet liquid.
But now, with every nook in the house filled and every pocket of air inside breathless, Mauve still didn’t feel full, even with her house plump, even though she’d enjoyed all the company, enjoyed it a lot. Because there, in the back of her imagination, a throng of new people had started to gather, all of their belongings in tow. There was just so much more in this world worth saving.
Ross McMeekin lives in Seattle, where he edits the literary journal Spartan and teaches creative writing. He received a MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2011. His fiction has appeared recently in publications such as Pank, FRiGG, and Necessary Fiction, and his essays have appeared in The Rumpus and Hunger Mountain. He blogs at www.rossmcmeekin.com.
© 2013, Metazen.