by Katrina Denza
The woman waits for the front door to shut and the click of his shoes on the walk before emerging from the bathroom.
She tears the sheets from the bed. A silver hair clip flings out, hits the mirror, and lands on the rug. She brushes her fingers over the fuzz of hair growing back on her head as she bends to inspect it. Tarnish dapples one end. She holds a foot over the offending object and attempts to crush it with her weight. It doesn't even bend.
She straightens and piles the sheets in a heap by her feet. Heavy and awkward, the mattress catches against the door and the plaster wall scrapes skin from her knuckles. Pain shoots through her back as she shoves the unwieldy mattress through the hall and down the stairs. She drags it out the door to rest on the dewy grass in front of the house. The morning air cools the fire in her face.
Pushing the box springs is even more difficult than the mattress, its metal skeleton, sharp and unyielding. She leans on it at the bottom of the stairs, chest heaving, while she rests. She remembers the day they had put the bed together, the new mattresses still encased in plastic.
Think of the babies we'll make on this mattress, her husband had said.
She hefts the box springs outside and on top of the mattress.
Sweat drips into her eyes and lands salty-sweet onto her lips as she works the headboard free from the frame. They had driven all the way to Charleston to an antique store she had seen advertised in a decorating magazine. They found the bed, overpriced but perfect, and while they waited for it to be shipped to their home two hundred miles away, they'd clung to each other, spent and optimistic, in another bed in an inn up the street.
Outside, her neighborhood shows signs of life: dogs bark, cars head out for early commutes, a cluster of kids chatter on their way to the bus stop. The woman arranges the pieces of antique frame over the mattress. She dribbles the fluid over the pile like syrup over pancakes. The smell makes her gag. She wipes her forehead and reaches in her pocket for the matches.
Katrina Denza lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Her stories have been or are forthcoming in Gertrude: A Journal of Voice and Vision; Lynx Eye; Words of Wisdom; and New Delta Review. Contact Katrina.