Making a Table

table2“This won’t work at all,” Benjamin said, looking at the table. David nodded resignedly. “You’ve made the legs about three feet too long,” Benjamin said. Dave nodded again. “I was worried you might say that,” he said.

Benjamin made a face like a deserted highway. “If we stood to eat,” he said, “it’d still be higher than our heads.” “I think I get it,” David said. He held out his hand to Benjamin. “Still friends?” Benjamin shook his hand and made them both lasagna.

They had to eat it from plates on their laps and David stained his favorite shirt. At home in bed that night, David told Gloria that he felt he deserved the tomato sauce stain.

Gloria agreed. She’d told him daily that the legs were too long.

Sometimes she worried about David’s ability to provide for their family. Actually, she thought, there’s reason to worry about David’s ability to do the the bare minimum to keep himself alive. The other day she’d come out to the workshop and found David stuck with his head in the enormous vise attached to the workbench. He couldn’t explain how it had happened, but he supposed that he’d been stuck there for almost three hours. Gloria allowed herself a moment to wonder if gross incompetence in a spouse was grounds for divorce, but cut the thought short before she could tell if the idea appealed to her or not.

She replaced that thought with an extended fantasy about being a personal trainer for singer-songwriters. After the death of Amy Winehouse, she found all other songstresses irritating and enjoyed the opportunity to push them beyond their limits. She fell asleep counting lunges for Adele, ignoring her pleas—but before unconsciousness overtook her, she allowed herself a vague awareness that the man struggling to complete two consecutive minutes on the stationary bicycle behind her bore a striking resemblance to David.

David didn’t sleep well. He turned in bed without tossing. Just rolled really. He rolled in very tight circles. He succeeded in not disturbing Gloria in the slightest. In the fever of his guilt, David thought to himself that he was not sleeping like a log, he was rolling like a log. David laughed at the trivial linguistic synchronicity. David’s laugh caused his rolling to shift. He rolled perilously close to the edge of the bed. Then he rolled off the edge of the bed.

Gloria heard David’s impact on the floor below. She looked over the edge of the bed and saw David clutching his ankle 12 feet below. She’d told him that the legs of the bed were too long.

Making a Table

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