by MARY HILLS - October 7, 2019
He comes home every night after school or work. He kisses his mother on the cheek before grabbing his plate of dinner and going down to his room in the basement. The stairs creak under his heavy feet. The basement is beige, lacking life or color. The sheets across his bed are deep blue, but the blanket is grey. Tired from his long day, he crawls into his bed, texts his latest girlfriend how much he loves her, lays his head on the pillow, and falls fitfully asleep.
The walls have seen many things. With their exposed wood and eggshell color, the walls feel dirty and unfinished. He has taken many girls down to his room, one more than others. He saw her as a good target. Even the walls could sense her innocence and defenselessness. Just like the stairs, the walls yearned to creak when he opened the door and walked down the stairs. The girl knew when he closed and locked it behind him because the walls carried its echo. It was almost as if the walls were warning her she was alone with him and she couldn’t leave.
The bed smelled like musk and laundry detergent. The sheets held onto the smell of the girl, her perfume. With every nap the pair took, the bed held onto their scent of sleep. He knew the more she slept in that bed, the more she would hold onto him and the scent of his room. It would become harder to let go, and she would convince herself to stay even if she shouldn’t. The bed held onto the salt of her tears. When he put his head on his pillow every night, he could still feel the wetness of the tears and smell the salt. The bed hung onto the smell of his damage.
The lamp sat peacefully on the table next to his stained old couch. The lampshade was a deep blue, to match his sheets, etched with engravings of waves. Every time he looked at it, he remembered how the waves had calmed him as a child. He would often come down to his room and stare at the lamp, imagining the slow movement of the water. It made his room seem like a safe space, away from all the chaos and fighting. As he grew older, things changed. As the girl and he sat on the couch, he started to yell. He glanced at the lamp, but it didn’t calm him the way it once did. Before he knew it, he had thrown his favorite lamp at the girl and it shattered at her feet. The peace of his room was destroyed with the lamp.
Absorbing every word spoken, the couch heard every football game, every phone call, every argument, every breakdown, every single thing. The cushions grew more dense with the accumulation of words. After fights, the cushions felt like rocks. The girl always ended up sitting on the floor, as if she knew the cushions held the secrets of what happened down in the dark basement. The breakup made the couch the heaviest. He stopped sitting on the couch after she had left for the last time. He knew what the couch knew, and he didn’t want to relive the words he had spoken.
All the pieces that go into a room hold different things. The walls, the bed, the lamp, the couch. All of it. These objects hold secrets and memories. They see things others don’t.