Rachel Gray

The Things That We Are Trying To Block Out

I had to find my bra on the floor and put on my socks. The bra was easy, but the socks, there were two of them and they could be anywhere. It was getting dark. A web of tree branches covered all of the houses and cars out the window. The pile of Eli’s clothes was slowly taking over the floor.

He popped open the door and stood in the doorway by the time I had gotten on one shoe.

“What are you doing?” He said.

“Putting my clothes on. I can’t find my other shoe.”

He rubbed my boob and checked under the wood that kept the bed off the floor, smirking as he tossed the shoe in front of me on the uncovered mattress.

Maybe it was just my bad luck that made his seem so good in comparison. The whole time I tied my shoe I had a scowl on my face. While Eli sat next to me staring at the floor, I kept trying to look at the mattress. It looked pretty without the sheets, a deeper blue than the walls, with flowers scrawled all across its banged up upholstery.

After I finished tying my laces I started kicking one shoe into the other one. Eli stood up and offered me his hand, pulling me next to him.

“I can feel you smiling,” he said, and stopped kissing me.

The room seemed to glow.

For some reason Eli didn’t think it was hilarious.

As I followed Eli downstairs I started talking about stuffed animals. “I never had them. I had some for awhile, but I’d wake up and they’d be on the floor.”

“Me neither. I played outside with sticks and rocks and stuff.”

Eli sat on the staircase before he reached the bottom of the stairs, which led to the front door. The carpet was old and dark tan and the hallways were all curved in and almost crumbling.

I looked out the window.

“They’re glued shut,” Eli said.

At the bottom of the staircase the sun was still visible and I wondered how long we would sit on the steps. I did this horrible thing whenever I liked someone. I just followed them around laughing. Eli was sitting with his arms somewhere in front of him, barely leaning them against his corduroys. They looked almost weightless, and shaky. In a second the sun would be too far below the trees.

“I wish I could block things out,” I said.

“I can’t. They just come back. That’s why I get drunk. I’ve got all this weighing on me.” He looked at his hands, “I thought I wanted to play music, but all of my songs sound the same.”

As Eli sat he held his head in his hands and I had this sort of urge to stand up. I picked up the ukulele from the couch and gave it to him.

He looked at me stupidly and smiled. And then it was like I wasn’t there anymore. He held the ukulele and stared at it. His fingers went to their usual places at the neck and by the strings over the hole and he plucked and he plucked. He didn’t even look up. He was that concerned about it.

When he looked up at me he was crying.

I took the ukulele and put it back on the couch.

There was some kind of magic in this. 

 

Fiction by Rachel Gray