Victoria Mills + Ian Nichols

Running From a Room

The room was bare now, except for the TV. Phil thought about taking it with him, but the pinch from his back brace reminded him he shouldn’t try to pick it up.

It was an old TV, one that was supposed to be furniture–wood sides and polished supports that he thought looked like feet.  He had bought it new…they had bought it new when they first moved in.  He had carried it in on one of the broad shoulders he gotten from serving in the army. It wasn’t the smartest way of doing it, but he thought it might impress her.  If it did, she didn’t make a scene of it.

He remembered that the burse took over a month to fade away.  He remembered that, when she first saw the wide expanse of black and purple, she put a cold compress on it and told him he should have used the hand truck.  He had agreed.

“Men,” she said, “Always having to do it the hard way.”

Phil had laughed at that.  He figured it was true, but he didn’t tell her.  He didn’t tell her a lot of things.  Maybe he should have.  Maybe it would have made a difference.  He didn’t know.

He sighed and ran his hand across the bare bookcase that was flush against one wall.  He had built it.  He had been real proud when he had finished.  Now, it just looked like bare pine.

Phil wasn’t much of a reader.  He had built it for her.  She wasn’t much of a reader either.  They had kept some Almanacs and some Digest up there along with some magazines.

He threw them all away after she left.  The bookcase had been collecting dust a long time now.

The whole place had been collecting dust.  Phil hated cleaning, and he was fine living in a little dirt.  He had had it a lot worse during the war, and he only had to look at the bullet scar in his belly to remind himself that he could survive nearly anything.

She could too.  That’s why he had married her. That’s why she could just walk away, leaving only a note and divorce papers in the mail.  Just like that.  At least, that’s what Phil figured.

He put his hand through what was left of his hair, and chuckled to himself.  He hadn’t thought of her this much in years, “You’re getting old,” he said, “You’re getting old and sentimental.”

The wallpaper was pealing. It was striped like a prisoner’s uniform.  Phil hated it. He grabbed a loose edge and pulled a long strip away revealing the old, dirty drywall beneath it.

Phil didn’t know why he was still there.  The truck was packed.  The new place set up.  The fire department was scheduled to burn this house down for practice.  Phil had asked them if he could watch.  They said that wasn’t a problem.  He thought about the room covered in fire.  It made him smile a little to himself.  It just seemed right…like the whole house had been building up to that point ever since he first stepped through that door holding her in his arms and trailing her off-white wedding dress behind them.  It needed to burn.  At least, he needed it to burn.

Phil spat on the ground and walked to the entrance.  He looked back at the room and at the TV.  He waited a moment, and then left.

He kept the door half-way open.  He thought to himself that maybe, someone, might save the TV.  It had been a good TV, and it didn’t seem right for it to burn too.

Ian Nichols