Down To One

When I first moved in, Daniel showed me the rooms his step children had occupied and offered them to me for my things. I thought it was odd, thinking back now, as we were hauling in my piano and the person helping us asked, “Do you want to keep this downstairs?”

Immediately Dan had answered for us, “No.” There was no room in the house for the piano; the piano would go upstairs in one of the spare bedrooms. Back then I figured it would take time to really find a place for everything… I didn’t really understand the place was permanently in the step child’s old bedroom.

For a while I had all of my “living” furniture in one room and my dressing items in the other. (I don’t share space in the bedroom – though it is master size, with four closets and a large dresser, every drawer and door is filled with his things.) Sometime during our first year together his step children took him to court over various furniture and he agreed to give them several large pieces that they had probably known all of their life. This opened up space in one of those two rooms.

Then he got the idea to purchase, with my discount and tireless hours shopping with him, a large screen TV, surround sound and recliners. He even made custom shelves to fill with every video game action figure he could buy. My involvement became my blessing, I suppose, as everything I had in there was eventually crammed in to the one room for his entertainment.

The piano is three feet from the desk, three feet from the book shelf, three feet from the table and so on, and I maneuver in between everything in order to get dressed. I did as much as I could to work with the windows and arrange everything so it looks like a living space and not a storage space. It’s hard, sometimes, seeing all of my things in one area while so much of the house goes un-lived in most of the time. Losing the room didn’t change my monthly monetary contribution. Sometimes I’d get angry and ask myself what I was paying for, only to be defeated by the thought that my rent wouldn’t cover my own place anywhere in this town. I really couldn’t afford to want more.

Tonight I learned that the two chairs in the gaming room are very misleading.

I went in there and booted up the PlayStation 4 so I could play a video game – one I paid for and downloaded to the console. At some point during the process I noticed a weird piece of plastic on one of Dan’s many larger statues and picked it off. Unable to figure out what it went to, I thought nothing more of it. The statue was on a tall speaker beside the TV, so I figured it was from something he had been lifting up and down from behind the unit during installation of some thing or another. Who knows. I played my game.

Daniel came out of the room after I had gone downstairs, tiny piece in his hand, and demanded to know where it had come from. Then he ordered me to tell him how I had come to notice the loose plastic if I was “sitting down playing a game” – a mortifying, grilling interrogation as if he was going to uncover what I had done wrong while being in his room…

The room I gave up, that we built together, with two chairs.

His replies and further questioning told me that he wasn’t going to believe the simple truth. He didn’t remember, like I did, how many times he fussed with the antennae on Thanksgiving so I could see the parade. He didn’t remember bumping in to the statue. His thoughts were far from blaming himself and he just wanted to know how I had broken something. Full-fledged OCD and selfish possession reared their ugly heads as I was shamed further from him.

We’re talking about a foot-tall video game character wielding a guitar like an axe – the odd- colored piece was apparently from the guitar. He found out because he had taken the time to match it up, followed by more questions about how the figure had become chipped.

I refused to elaborate. I just kept shrugging; I had no idea how he thought I would be involved. If I had broken it, I would have said sorry and bought a new goddamned toy. Seriously, I didn’t appreciate the way I was being treated.

He stormed up the stairs and slammed the door to the room like a teenager in angst. That left me, downstairs, listening to him….slide things across the floor. Move things around. What kind of fit was he throwing up there, exactly? Was that the sound of my piano losing the one shitty spot it had?

Sometimes these bad things happen and I tell myself, Autumn, everything is not okay here. This isn’t good. He isn’t right.

I picked the laptop up from beside my chair and began to write this, hoping it would all come together and make sense, even produce an answer for when the dysfunction is so thick I think it’s going to suffocate me.

By the time I got right here, he was back downstairs with a dusting cloth in his hand at 11 P.M, leaning against the fireplace.

“Thanks for finding that, Babe.”

Thanks for finding that, Babe? Do you have any idea what you just put me through? How absolutely miserable you make living with you? I didn’t want anything to do with your shitty PlayStation, your shitty little room, or even you, anymore, because you’re clearly insane.

“You scare me.”

“What are you talking about?” It was as if he had time to adjust his perspective and come back down to Earth, never mind the way he had looked from outer space.

“You verbally attacked me over something I had nothing to do with, made me feel terrible-“

He talked over my words. He simplified. Acted like he had always been grateful. He just wanted to thank me again.

There may be two chairs in there, but I know better now.

I am never, ever, going back in there again.

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