Friday, July 31, 2009

The Dying Room

Olivia and Gabe had been seeing each other for around six months and were enjoying the period between the initial I-Love-You-Saying and first For-Granted-Taking. The two of them still nuzzled each other in public and engaged in all the usual grossities that keep early term couples quarantined from their friends until the dew evaporates.

Gabe met Olivia at a movie while she was on an accidental date with a fellow named Chuck from her work. Olivia was oblivious to any romantic maneuverings on Chuck's part and had accepted his invitation to see Slumdog Millionaire as an expression of common interest.

The movie theatre was packed with two-hundred white Americans ready to fetishize Indian poverty.

Chuck left Olivia alone next to the stranger, Gabe. The two of them sat silently for a moment, and Olivia shooed away a shrewdness of teenagers advancing on the open seat next to her. One female sixteen year old rolled her eyes in displeasure and skulked up the stairs.

Gabe noticed.

"Jeez."

"I know, right?" Olivia craned her neck over the crowd. Chuck had been gone for what felt like twenty minutes.

"I hate saving seats." Gabe said.

"Ungh. Me, too."

"That's why I don't go to the movies with people. Ever."

Olivia interrupted her gazing to glance back at Gabe. He was not looking at her, and his comment was not a joke either. He glowered off into the onscreen trivia (in its fourth unenlightening rotation) and wagged his knees to and fro. Olivia stared at his cheek until he sensed her eye.

"So you won't even go with me to the movies on my birthday?" She nudged her arm up on the arm rest and Gabe could feel the heat from her pinky drift to his. His wagging knees halted and his eyes side-longed at her.

"Especially not on your birthday."

It was this moment that the two of them would recount time and again through soft chuckles and "Poor Chucks". (Poor Chuck, indeed. He returned bearing bouquets of Raisinettes, Popcorn, and Dr. Pepper, unaware of his loss. In the days following, he would curse the denied impulse to send her for candy.)

For the bulk of their six months together, home base was Gabe's apartment. He lived closer to the areas of interest they both enjoyed and it seemed more convenient. It wasn't until late Summer when he realized that he had never been much beyond the kitchen in her home.

They returned that afternoon hauling bags from a series of procrastinated errands. Olivia was one of the few remaining people who actually had photos developed, and she was anxious to get them home and put away.

Her apartment was a bright, airy place. Upon entering, Gabe immediately wondered why they didn't spend more time there. He set the bags down on the kitchen counter and remarked at the walls:

"Yellow is a really good color for a kitchen."

His saying this out loud surprised him. He was not used to making proclamations about color or light or anything decorative. Olivia was much more given to qualitative statements.

Olivia smiled and rustled through the plastic bags. She had been quiet most of the day and Gabe thought maybe he was treading the line of asking a too frequent, Whatcha thinkin' about?

Gabe peered into the rest of the apartment. It was constructed like most Chicago apartments - from the kitchen one could catch a full view of the entire domicile, a long hallway running through each section. As he looked down the hall, the colors of each room faded from bright hues and into darker tones, ending with a closed door at the other side.

Olivia lifted a packet of photos from the Wallgreen's bag and poked Gabe on the shoulder.

"Could you set this on the Dying Room table?"

Without much of a thought, Gabe reached back and pulled the packet out of her hand with a "Sure." He trotted into the reddish dining room and plopped the photos onto the table surrounded by mismatched chairs. The walls of the room were covered with movie posters. He rammed his hands in his pockets and strolled about the perimeter, focussing for a second on the giant red Apocalypse Now poster.

Olivia appeared beside him, confused.

"Where did you put the pictures?"

They were lying on the table directly behind her.

"Right there," Gabe pointed. "On the dining room table."

Olivia turned and let out a light laugh. "On...no. The Dying Room table."

Gabe took a second to register in full what she had just said.

"Yeah. You said to put them on the Dining Room Table."

"No. I said the Dying Room Table."

A long moment passed between them. Gabe was not sure how to phrase the question he wanted to ask. It stewed in his head for a minute and half, until all he could muster was:

"Dyming Rm?"

Olivia took in a deep breath, not quite ready to explain.

"Um. Yes...it's right next to the Living Room down the hall."

They stood and looked at one another.

Gabe was a gloomy sort of person prior to this relationship, a fact that Olivia found charming and, in some ways, an appropriate counter to her buoyant personality. He had managed to preserve his gloom over the last six months, only to encounter the occasional sunny spots which allowed him to comment on things like yellow kitchens. Gabe saw this as Olivia's influence and he did not mind.

Even with her light disposition, Gabe had always noted a darkness here and there. He asked about it once, and was met with a cagey answer. Rather than press forth, Gabe opted to be satisfied with her half response and move on happily. He wished now that he had pressed.

The semi-words "Dyming Rm" were pounding in the air, with no other words to compete. Olivia picked up the pictures and took Gabe's hand.

"I think you want to see it."

"No, wait, you actually said DYING room?"

"Yes."

That was the worst thing she could have said. Something about this went beyond quirky likes and dislikes. The sunlight from the kitchen dimmed behind a cloud, causing a darkening about her that filled his guts with dread.

"Wha- no. I don't have to see it." Gabe pulled his hand away.

"Why not?"

"What's in it?"

"Why don't you come and see?"

"No."

"I think you want to."

"I don't think I do."

Another awful silence. Gabe was ready to leave.

"You don't have one." Olivia said.

"What? A DYING room. No. I don't."

"So, why don't you come and see?"

He hadn't had this feeling since he was a child. He wanted to leave the apartment, but he knew Olivia would not go with him. She pulled at his hand.

"Just come and see" she whispered. And she guided him towards the hallway, down which lead to the dark closed door.




...To be Continued.


4 comments:

Jan Smelk said...

what happens? is that too obvious a question? and will he go? I'm in, hook line and stuff.

Erica said...

Yeah! More, please!

regan said...

I dig. (and yes, I want to know what happens next, come on!)

Henry said...

Nice Blog!! We have a wide range of Dining Room Tables Chairs which helps you to reset your dining room.

 
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