The couch outside was filled with mildew. Moss was growing roots around its feet. It was put there a year ago now. Before everything changed.
It wasn’t meant to be there for more than a day. More than a few hours, even. He was supposed to come pick it up.
He never came.
But I didn’t have the courage to move it, nor the strength. So it sat there. Through the wind, rain, and snow. A full four seasons have passed. A full four seasons since I last heard his voice.
After staring at it through my kitchen window, I can’t help but remember the mundanity of that day.
“Zach, come grab your breakfast, I’m running out the door with Carly!” I yell from our tiny kitchenette.
Zach isn’t a morning person. I’m not not a morning person, so I make him breakfast most days. I’d actually say I’m pretty indifferent about mornings. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re not.
Most times, I feel like that makes me an outcast; that I can’t definitively be a morning or a night person. Sometimes, it seems that’s the only way the world works, those two categories. You have to fit into one of them, you must have an opinion on it, how could you not? But I was never like that. I can wake up early, I can stay up late, whatever the day requires. Zach considers this my superpower; he says, “You’re the most adaptive person I’ve ever met.”
I don’t feel very adaptive. Not anymore.
Since then, I’ve been a “neither” person. I feel alone at night. When I finally fall asleep and wake up I’m faced with reality once again. If anything, I’m a mid-day keep-self-as-distracted-as-possible, kind of person.
Zach pops his head around the corner and whispers, “Thank you,” as if I granted him all three of his lifetime wishes. He grabs his pancakes, kisses my forehead, and soon enough Carly and I are out the door.
I turn the key to my too-old Toyota and the engine makes a loud start. As I’m backing up, I see the door open with a frantic Zach behind it.
He shouts as I’m rolling down my window, “The couch! Someone bought the couch!”
“That’s great,” I shout back, “is there anything I need to do when I get back?”
“I don’t think so? I’ll let you know if you do.”
“Got it. Carly’s gonna be late-”
He cuts me off, “Go, go! We’ll talk later.”
“Ok! Love you!”
“Love you,” He yells back, blowing Carly a kiss towards the backseat, “have a fun day at school, Car!”
I continue reversing and drive to Carly’s school for drop off. She blows me a kiss on her way in, just the way Zach did, and I'm off to complete my long grocery list of to-dos.
I took off my part-time job today so I could figure out all the planning; Zach and I are trying to put our tiny home up for rent when we visit my mom for the summer, and so we are getting rid of some old, overused, and frankly, ugly furniture for new and better ones. Though, we don’t actually have much money to buy the furniture so we’re selling the old ones and trying to thrift the new ones, reupholstering them if we have to.
It may sound silly to sell a new couch to buy an equally as-old one, but this one is too small anyway. If the couch can also be used as a bed, we can advertise it better, make it more appealing, maybe get a few extra dollars out of it.
Anyway, with the couch being sold, the first stop on my list is the thrift shop.
The morning goes by in such a blur. I didn’t find any adequate sized couches. None big enough for a person to sleep on and none small enough to fit in our room. I went to the grocery store to get myself lunch and food for the week. I even had time to stop at the post office to get stamps. I chose the ones with flowers on them, all different varieties.
When I get home, I see the couch outside with a note on it: “For Mr. Berry.”
A note with the same handwriting lay on the counter, reading: “The Berrys are coming to pick up the couch. Pls confirm their time when they next reply. On site. Same username and password as usual. XX Zach”
Instead of unpacking the ice cream, broccoli, and chicken nuggets, I sit at our home computer.
I try all of Zach’s normal username and password combinations, and none of them work. This isn't an uncommon occurrence. Zach forgets his passwords all the time.
But a pop up appears at the top of the site, “Three attempts left.”
Instead of calling Zach...
I wish I called Zach. Maybe that would have created a butterfly effect. Maybe it all would have turned out differently.
...I hit the next nearest button, “Reset your password.”
I log into Zach’s email, reset the password, and text him that I changed it.
He never saw the message, I suppose.
It takes me a few moments to figure out how the messaging system on this site works, but soon enough I find Mr. Berry’s message that came in only ten minutes ago, “We can come at 4:15, please let me know if that works for you. ”
I don’t really understand what caught my eye at that moment. Maybe it was the melting ice cream or Carly’s toys out on the floor but I didn’t confirm the message. I never confirmed the message. Maybe I blacked out. Or thought I did it but didn't. Either way, Mr. Berry didn’t come at 4:15 like I expected.
I went through the motions as weekdays normally go. Tidying the house, picking up Carly, making Carly a snack as soon as we step through the door, those kinds of things.
Until, a knock on the door.
“That must be the Berrys!” I smile while saying this to Carly, though knowingly she won’t really understand it.
The smile quickly leaves my face.
And so, the couch is still there.
No Berrys, no Zach, one couch. One mildew, memory-filled couch.
Very thoughtful piece!