2 June 2002 | Vol. 2, No. 2
The apartment is 450 square feet but isn't square at all. We learned to cut corners—a 3-sided kitchen table with four folding chairs. A bed on rollers positioned on the diagonal. Wood boards and cinder blocks of various shapes and sizes to hold books. Such were the sacrifices of living without. But we were biding time (for what neither of us could explain). We watched the clock in anticipation.
Only one object could free us from slavery to measurement. 74 inches of perfectly symmetrical space for a 72 inch couch. I had 210 dollars. You had 199. Enough for a low-end pullout sleeper and a plastic slip cover. We flipped through the IKEA catalogue at your insistence, even though I hated mass-produced goods that required assembly (such a paradox to begin with). After a few rounds of page flipping, name-calling and two paper cuts, I suggested we try a discount furniture shop.
We ventured out onto 5th Avenue and 21st, only a few blocks away from ABC Carpet and Home, a nirvana for self-proclaimed interior designers. I knew that together we'd never belong to the caste that bought Eames and Biedermeier. But if I were to dispose of you in a year or so and find someone more ambitious, I just might move up a notch. For now I'm sentenced to reproductions of reproductions constructed of foam and particleboard.
To the left of the first staircase in MDC, you found our treasured couch: split pea green ultra-suede with removable armrests. The salesman insisted it was a best seller and offered us 100 dollars off. You settled back into it, crossed and uncrossed your legs, slumped forward and nodded your head. This is the one.
We weren't informed of the free static charge that came with it. Each time we reclined in compromising positions reminiscent of happier years, sparks flew—momentarily stalling our actions and forcing us to reconsider. Even with daily doses of Static Guard it still gave off small voltages. We surrendered and deemed it a useless centerpiece.
When people ask we tell them it was the electric current that tore us apart. After declining to invest in a potential disappointment you settled for a kitchen stool. I chose a pillow propped against the bookshelf facing the clock.
If I watch it closely, maybe time will go faster.
About the author:
Marni Borek lives in New York City, where she's trying very hard to produce short stories that pass the 1,500 word mark. Her short stories have been published online in Hubris and Poor Mojo's Almanac. Her work will also be featured in upcoming issues of DIAGRAM, as well as the new print journal Si Senor. She's currently working on a collection of short stories, whose main themes are meat, families and compulsive behaviors.