Walter: The Room

March 25, 2017

When Anna had lived with Walter for about a month, he decided to surprise her after school one day. He watched her board the bus and then he got busy moving her things into the master bedroom. He transferred his things into the spare room down the hall. It was right to give her this space, he thought, with the enormous windows and the private bath. He wanted her to feel at home here. He wanted her to feel special. And he didn't mind the small room anyway. It was easier to think in there. He carefully arranged her stuffed animals along the hope chest and hung her clothes in the enormous walk-in closet. This made him happy. It made him sad too, to think he'd missed so much of her life. He remembered mountains and mountains of tiny white things, gifted to him and his wife by friends and co-workers in the days before Anna's arrival. Diapers and onesies, paper thin nightgowns and marshmallow rows of cotton socks. Her clothes now, he thought -- now that she was old enough to have some opinions on the matter -- seemed like an act of defiance. He carefully matched each garment with the appropriate hanger. Boldly patterned sundresses, a purple trench coat, zebra printed leggings, red overalls, green velvet pants, and a bright yellow slicker. With every item being its own unique size and length, he could find no logical way of sorting them -- a discovery that vexed him to no end -- and so he decided to go with the only rational solution. He arranged them by hue. This seemed right. And for a moment, her things were hanging up right beside his own, which, curatorially speaking, ran the entire spectrum...a staggeringly comprehensive and formidably inert study... of the color brown. The juxtaposition of his clothes against hers summed up his entire world, he thought, most notably as it pertained to women. His standing objective, after all, was of course to attain the slightest thread count known to man in the most highly forgettable tint. The combined strength of such an assemblage, at least in nearly all of his preliminary tests, rendered him utterly invisible to most women, asshole children, and door to door canvassers. When Anna arrived home, he showed her to her new room. "You did this?" Walter replied with a smile. She looked all around and then up at her father. "Leave my stuff alone!" She slammed the door in his face. Walter stumbled backward. His shoulders slumped. He could hear items being thrown about and the sound of her crying. There was nothing, he decided, nothing he could do to win with her. He walked to the kitchen and filled a mason jar with whiskey. Out on the porch, he could breathe. He opened his journal, the one he bought when she arrived. It was meant to help him remember the important things. And it felt good for a while, the notion that for the first time in his life, he actually had something worth writing about. But the pages had somehow filled with all of the ways he had failed her. And these were not words he needed to read twice. He felt himself in that state of numbness... when the life is mostly drained out and in its place are fragments and torn off pieces of answerless questions, compressed into every crack and pocket of his body. This is how I will die, he thought. I will never be happier than I am in this moment. He stabbed at the journal with his pen until the sheets came loose. The shot of whiskey felt alive like fire in his throat. He took the pages over to the grill, put a torch to them, and sent them off into the night. #thestoryofwalter 0104

 

 

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