Once we had hundreds of
chairs. Chairs were everywhere, filling the house, reaching in stacks.
Literally hundreds: kitchen chairs, dining room chairs, armchairs
soft as mothers, designer chairs sleek as spoons. There they were,
cupped like hands, waiting.
On a Wednesday, we eat boiled eggs,
standing on one leg each in the kitchen. He dips the solid white
into a pillar of salt. I drop pieces of shell thin as paper around
my feet. “Listen,” I finally say, “do the animals
make you nervous?”
Roger looks around. There they are,
eye-glittering, hunched. They are watching us eat, licking their
chops. They gather in the corners like piles of dust. “Yes,”
Roger agrees, “they make me a little nervous.”
It started off with one or two of
them, ordinary animals, animals with names and sweaters like little
children. They liked to do cute, harmless things, they liked to
stand on back legs to watch out the window, or sleep with their
heads on Roger’s neck. But something started to happen, it
was when we left town for the weekend, I think, sometime when we
weren’t paying attention. Maybe we were a little tired. Maybe
we let things slip a little. Now there seem to be animals everywhere.
I count seventeen, but it is hard, because they are moving. Roger
counts twelve. Their tense furred bodies coil and snap.
We finish the boiled eggs and immediately
start to feel sick. “You didn’t boil them long enough!”
Roger cries, pointing his finger.
“Me?” I say. “Not me.”
Still, we both feel sick. That much
is as irreversible as water ending a frying pan’s heat. Roger
leans against an oak chair, its legs spread like sea-worthy sailor.
Some sort of long, tubular animal with precise and tiny paws dashes
under an arrangement of lawn chairs which rattle their plastic seat-straps
in response. “Well, this turning out to be a really great
day,” I say sarcastically. I say this sarcastically because
I don’t really mean it. I actually find the day to be bad,
Roger feels sorry for me. He offers
to take me out for pizza, since we are both still hungry. I say
I think that might alright. At the restaurant we lean together in
a sparkling vinyl booth and hold hands and pretend we are in love.
We do it to fool the waitresses.
But when we get home, all the rooms
are empty. No animals, no chairs. The refrigerator cools nothing
but pools of beastly saliva. Roger slaps his forehead with his hand
and slides to the floor. “All of our chairs!” he says.
Only now do we finally sit.