OriginalShort: Starting Out Empty

Natural light filters through new windows to illuminate them on the floor of their empty living room.  The house is theirs now and the young couple chooses from samples what they want their future to look like.  They kiss away the bumps and buckles in the carpet, they caress away the cracks in the wall.  Right now they want everything.  Right now they want to fill the empty spaces with new things.  The house feels far from empty, with atoms buzzing about, radiating with a promise of the ideal.

“Baby, I want a table,” she says with eyes wide open as she stares at eye level on the floor straight into his eyes.

“Anything for you, my love,” he nods confidently back at her, but swallows down the wanting hard.  The wanting won’t stop.  He loves it, he loves her, but his unending desire to fulfill her wanting scares him.

“I want a big table, a big old table with six chairs for the dining room.”  She’s running so fast ahead of him with her wanting, he thought when he bought the house he would have caught up.  She draws a plan with her finger on the dusty floor, making more somethings where she sees only empty spaces.

In the morning, she gets ready like a bride, so conscientious.  Every piece must match appropriately to the setting.  She checks her angles in the mirror while he watches.  He knows it’s a show just for him.  His heart aches again, she’s wanting again.  It’s not just the table, it’s the experience, it’s the moment when a part of them will be full for a moment.  Then she will find another place to fill with something else, another moment to crave.

It is too much to be in the same space any longer without wasting the entire day in the bedroom; they are already late.  He urges them on reluctantly, not wanting to leave the room that is full to fill an empty one.

He had spent the night tearing through information to find the one he knows she wants.  He has a lead on a table, a big table outside the city, and the nicest one at a price he can afford.  They separate, so that they have more room for all of the love, all of the table and all of the chairs.

On the drive, she’s filling the fractures with futures.  She was supposed to be a lawyer, a teacher, so many things and now she works for their future, for the house: cleaning, cooking, and homemaking.  She wants to fill it all because if she fills it all than maybe they will have it all and maybe she will finally be something.  Will that something be enough?

When they arrive, the neighborhood looks nice.  The seller is a middle aged woman, older a little on the heavy side.  She’s tense because they are late and she can smell the city on them.  She dislikes them even more for their tardiness and their business-casual attire on the weekend.  They smile and introduce themselves in such a friendly way, in the right way, but she has no desire to be friendly to them.  In them she can see the past and it only looks shiny from the outside.

He can see in his love’s eyes that she wants the table, a little work is needed but it’s perfect.  She loves it because it’s a mess, but she can already see the finished product.  He’ll end up doing all the hard labor because she’s too impatient, she’ll tell him what needs to be done, what tools to use, how to fix it up.  In her mind, that’s the hard part.  It should be done once you figure it all out; you shouldn’t have to actually do it all, too.

“We’ll take it,” he says and hands the seller the money right away.  He has succeeded for the moment.  They are in tandem.  They are an unstoppable team.

“Alright then.  Well, take it apart.  It won’t fit in those tiny cars all put together.  And take it out of the garage.  I need to close up the house and lock it so the looters won’t take the beams.  That’s all that’s left now anyway, but they’ll take it.”

The seller deflates.  She has rid herself of the last piece of the curse and it is bittersweet.  The table had an infection, or maybe it was the tree that birthed the table that had an infection.  Underneath the surface a mold grew, first in tiny particles growing together to create a large fuzzy mass.  That table had sat through every plate-throwing fight and every silent dinner filled only with the noise of clanking utensils. She didn’t notice it at first.  But little by little it started to infect the food, that’s when she knew.  That was when she started to inspect her surroundings.    He started hate everything she cooked, but it was the mold, it wasn’t her cooking!  Then the mold made them sick, so sick they were weaker, and so weak they could no longer got out of the house.  They sat in silence while he hated her and she hated him for hating her.  He didn’t believe it was the mold, but it was.

The couple thanks her profusely.   They start on the task of breaking down the table only to rebuild it later.

The seller leaves, but stops the car midway down the street to look at them.  She knows the wife.  She was once that young girl, filled with wanting she couldn’t control.  She wanted to cook and clean and provide the perfect life for them.  All it got her was loneliness and an empty house she couldn’t afford after he left her.  The looters, with their wanting, so much more powerful and desperate than her own now, stripped it to the beams, but everything was already gone before that.  She didn’t want any more after he left.

In the car on the way home, the young woman thinks about the table, the house, and the future.  Suddenly it all starts to feel like a lot of work, but she doesn’t know how to stop the wanting because the wanting is growing inside her daily.  How would they function without her wanting and him providing?

He thinks about the looters and about the taking.  The table doesn’t seem as shiny anymore, the tinge is green in the rear-view mirror.  Which happened first the wanting, the looting or the leaving?  The road and the separate glass and metal contraptions carrying them to their future separate them.  He feels the pressure push down the pedal and he continues to drive, faster, farther away from her.  She’ll need to catch up now, but he doesn’t know if she can.

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8 responses to “OriginalShort: Starting Out Empty

    • Thank you so much for reading! I really appreciate it. I was trying to convey how idealistic we can be when ‘starting out’ and the reality of the challenges and curveballs that can slowly deteriorate the original ideas you once had. I hope that came through! Thanks again!

  1. I’ll read the newer stuff you sent me this weekend, but you can’t stop me from reading this truly compelling older work, too. I like seeing how a writer has developed and where he/she has come from. I loved this piece; it’s very subtle and telling.

    • Haha ok, you’re welcome to it. It forces me to read back over my old work. I’ve made some progress. I had big ideas before but not the follow through. I like editing these old ones and making them more clear. It’s good practice. It’ll be a lifelong process of improvement. Thanks for reading and commenting. It really is helping me improve.

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