by Angela Readman
‘Let’s not,’ she said. She held her hand up like an old-fashioned policeman acting as a stop sign. She wanted not to so much that she didn’t even finish the sentence and add the ‘talk about it’ part. I wasn’t going to push it, neither was she, so we waited for the water to bubble and added the pasta. When we cooked there was something else to talk about, and after. It was the next night when things got rough, well not exactly rough. Everything was smooth. The two of us were politely drinking coffee in the same room, but after I showed her the picture of a very ugly fish in the paper and she commented on what the poor bastard must be thinking there wasn’t anything else to say. Dinner was a long way off, we were having leftovers from the night before and adding mushrooms. There was no point putting it any other way.
Then she started moving the furniture. There’d be room for an extra cupboard for the plates she said, if we just moved everything around. I helped her move the furniture and we stood sweating in the kitchen. The next evening there was a trip to Ikea, lots of candles and brushes to scrub potatoes with shaped like tadpoles to consider. Measurements, shelves. We wandered past the haberdashery department full of pregnant woman grazing on oversized fluffy cushions and tea towels. Then we came home and moved about the furniture, looked for places for the things we’d bought.
The next night though everything looked strange, brightly coloured things randomly placed like a reminder to be cheerful.
‘We could do with reorganising,’ she said. Great, we could talk about it a lot. The picture of the panda baby in the paper didn’t make her smile as much as I thought it would. I thought she’d like it, the odd small pinkness of the thing. I thought she’d laugh at it and say ‘what the hell is that?’ We looked at the catalogue, the numbers next to any sort of storage system anyone could ever want. Things no one could imagine wanting to store. There was a shelf system called grudge or something similar. I said we could use another trip to Ikea for something for the CDs. We talked about it a lot, what we could buy, the best time to go at the weekend. We cleared space ready and waiting. When we were there we looked at everything, tiny bottles too small to put things in, cardboard vases that looked like milk cartons and were more expensive than normal vases, odd metal blob things that clinked when you picked them up. She picked up a weird statue thing that looked like Buddha, if Buddha was a frog. It was smiling and sitting crossed legged as if meditating on being the God of strange things.
‘What does this mean?’ she said, ‘is it a god or a frog?’
She held it between both hands and I came close to look into its serene aluminium face with her. There were many things there we talked along time about, commenting on ther weirdness, imagining the sort of people who bought them and why, coming up with theories of what the item actually was. We got home we emptied more candles on to the floor and then lit them all. We hung up our new picture of a pier that seemed to go to nowhere on the wall. We both stared at it till the candles went out.
Angela Readman‘s poetry has been published by Mslexia, The Tims, Iota and Ambit etc. Her poetry collection ‘Strip’ was published by Salt Publishing.