We Live in the Furniture Store
We live in the furniture store. We order Chinese and pretend we cooked it in the Sylco Modern Kitchen Space. We eat it in the Shepherd and West Cozy Corner. Our drinks sit on the Recycled Wood Coasters, set of four. Mine has a fox. Yours has a manatee. Last week I found a pair of women’s underwear, not my own, in the Miss Magenta Vanity and Dresser Set.
Before, we lived in the antique shop. I read the yellowed postcards in their dime box and pretended they were written to me. I kept the one that reads, Jan—we saw the river cut into the earth. I wonder what you are doing. On the front is a mountain of orange rock. This looks like your handwriting. My name is not Jan.
Last week I found a pair of women’s underwear, not my own, in the Miss Magenta Vanity and Dresser Set.
We play a game when the lights go out, act out what a couple might be like in every arrangement. One night we couldn’t sleep and kept going, napped in the EZ Recliners the next day while visitors leaned over us to check the prices.
I think that you resent that we can’t have a dog. You have always wanted a dog the way I have always wanted children. You grew up with dogs the way I grew up with children, running in lawns and down streets in clumps of bodies. You like it best when it’s crowded. You brush past visitors, your hands lightly on their shoulders, as if to say, I am here, I am behind you, I am moving, here I go.
I like it best when the place is empty. I imagine drivers in the intersection going past, seeing the glow from the Greenfield Barns lamp under which you are falling asleep, wondering what it is like inside the furniture store when it is empty. I like that we never have to lock our doors. I like that neighbors can come over unannounced. I like the white noise of the fluorescents.
I think that you resent that we can’t have a dog.
I get up before you to fold the blankets. While you are in the employee lounge for coffee, I tidy the Swan and Company bedroom feature, tuck in the All-Cotton Performance Sheets with perfect hospital corners.
We finish the Chinese food, careful not to drop anything or leave stains. Without asking each other, we move to the Bainbridge Mid Century Collection.
Imagine me in that one dress, I say, and then I say, Hello.
You say, hello. I’m late. I’m sorry.
I hoped you would come.
I almost didn’t.
Would you like a drink? I say.
You nod and move past me, hands light on my shoulders. I am here, I am behind you, here I go.
Kate A. McMullen is a third-year MFA fiction candidate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is the 2015 winner of the Colbert Chapbook Award for The Girls of Indigo Flats and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in Nomad, Lady Parts Zine, and the UNCW Randall Library 2016 Flash Fiction Anthology.
Illustration by Alex Fukui.