Harris caught Edith in the hallway with mismatched socks on her feet. He smiled at her and she smiled at him and kept on walking unashamedly along the poorly lit hallway.
The carpet gently whispered with each step. Edith walked so close to the wall the sparse brown hair on her right forearms brushed the pained molding. The molding ran halfway up the wall and was neatly mortared at the six doors. The place had been a nice dormitory for professors at the university years ago, but working people like Harris and Edith now rented it. He took an evening class the first winter he lived in the building. Now he complained about parking. She still took her classes in figure drawing and landscape painting and methodically filled her sketchbooks and filed them in a large gray filing cabinet. Normally they wouldn’t say anything to the other person because they never said anything to anyone else. She was suspicious that men were testing her out to see if she would be one of those fabled easy lays who would invited them into her apartment where they would go through the predictable ritual she used to read out-loud to her girlfriends from the tattered copy of a men’s magazine she had found in a boyfriend’s uniform drawer, full of sold jock straps, foot ball tights, and nylon belts. She broke up with him after he told her it was time for them to do it and she said if that is the it your are referring to I am not interested. She had liked to talking to boys and there was always that gentle tug she couldn’t identify and when she read those ridiculous letters that followed puerile plot line of man meets complete stranger woman she invites him to a private spot, sucks him, and then strips and then there is much c – u – m – ing. She stood in front of the bathroom mirror looking at herself and frowned. Even calculating in the arrangement of her body and the lighting and the make-up and the airbrushing (because these were the photographs in the magazine) she wouldn’t look anything like that. Her breasts were like fatty tumors and her nipples were large without any clear areola edge just slightly bigger bumps than the bumps that sort of spread out into the flesh of her chest. She had a bright red rings around her waist – like a line someone had drawn between her belly button and her breasts. And so she sat in her classes, her lips lividly tight as she concentrated on drawing. She liked her life drawing classes the best because she had such a difficult time controlling the line of her pencil. Her figures turned out brutish and trollish; when she managed to make whatever she was marking out look the least bit human, she was happy.
She wasn’t expecting to talk to anyone on the hallway of her
apartment. She had seen Harris late at night when she was coming home from class.
He had a brown bag of take-out and smiled at her but turned away quickly.
The take-out had a soy sauce sweet flavor and he liked the dumpling floating in a neon orange hot sauce. The paper take out was soggy and the lid wilted back when he opened it up after coming into his dark apartment that smelled like old pizza boxes and unwashed dishes and the fabric softener his mother had used and that he still used on his clothes. He sat a fold chair at his kitchen table and read a business magazine and then turned on the TV. He thought for a second about Edith who he didn’t know as Edith just he thought she must be a driven artist or something a student he assumed because she always had her supplies when he saw her in the hallway.
That Saturday, though when he caught her in the hallway
without matching socks he nodded his head and walked down the stairs with her.
It wasn’t odd — by the way — that they took the stairs even though they lived on the eleventh floor. The elevator was a small cage from the 1920s and crept up and down the floors and because it was so slow, someone was always waiting for it each floor and so it was a small packed elevator that stopped at each floor. And so if you wanted to get downstairs comfortably you walked in that building. And he and she walked down the stairs together not saying anything to each other although they were both aware of each other and listened to the other won walking down the stairs.
She walked all of the way down even though she had on one pink sock and one white sock. Maybe he fell in love with her because she walked down eleven flights of stairs with him and it gave them a moment to not talk to each other but to listen to the other one walking down the stairs. She gasped when she opened the front door and noticed the couch that filled the space under the first flight of stairs in the lobby. ‘What is this?’ It was a gigantic couch and had big black buttons and a dusty fringe along the base of the couch. She didn’t like the sofa in the lobby. We should get rid of the sofa. When they went outside they asked one of the passerby’s if they needed a good sofa. They were moving and they found that they didn’t have room for it at the new place. So they had to construct a whole story about getting the sofa. He said his mother have it them. No telling how much she paid for it. She always bought the top of the line because she said it lasted longer and made up the cost in the long haul. It still had some time on it. But if you don’t have room for it, then what do you? You want a sofa? Of course they did if they were just giving it away. They’d come back with their truck. So he and the Edith went to a coffee shop on the corner and then came back when the people parked in the no parking zone in front the building. They walked into the lobby and the two men sat down the sofa. It is a little dusty. But hell it’s free. Harris guided the sofa into the truck and then it was gone.
‘You water your plants’ Because it looks dead.’
‘No I didn’t water that plant. Your the one who bought the
‘I should have named it. I never let anything with a name
‘It’s not dead. It’s just thirsty.’
‘Right. It’s not dead sweetie. It’s just sleeping. A deep
‘You don’t believe me. All you have to do it water it and it
will come back to live.’
‘Are you playing god with my plant?’
‘How much do you think it cots to water your plant that
doesn’t have a name?’
‘I think I will name my dead plant Erksin.’
‘Erksin isn’t dead. He’s just thirsty.’
‘See. If I name something it never dies.’
‘You resuscitated the plant by naming it Erksin.’
Watering the plant did not help. It was dead. Edith stood at
the window. She push the potted plant she named Erskin out the window and they watched it drop. It dropped and then bounced off the left a story down – the
soil inside the pot slide out and everything spiraled into the air and they
still watched it fall for several stories. Harris imagined that people looking
out of their respective windows and saw the soil fall and the pot falling and
thought a bird was flashing out of the window and they went back to their lives
and it kept falling the eleven stories then the pot split on the sidewalk each
fragment turning into pebble sized fragments and the soil slumped onto the
pavement and Erksin himself splattered onto the pavement the force of the
impact splitting his fibrous stalks and shucking his dead leaves. Harris looked
at Edith and she smiled. ‘Erskin was drinking us out of house and home.’