Figs and Lace

Without all the furniture, the house collapses like flesh without its bones, shaped only by my breath. I cross my arms, holding off a chill, and move into the little space that used to be a dining room. Lightly used. No one ever dined here. The table used to be stone black, charmingly sly, like a new diamond ring flashing in the sunlight. It demanded to be seen, praised–but only from afar. Look, but don't stare. Ask, but don't pry. And so we admired the table, but we never used it.

We only ever ate in the kitchen, at a little table with permanent coffee stains and a leg that was perpetually loose. I go into the kitchen, boots clacking on the wood, and imagine that there might be pop rocks somewhere in the cupboards. I imagine that I have to balance delicately on the open drawers to climb up on the countertop and search for candy behind a row of spice jars. I imagine.

I imagine until I can't anymore; I imagine until my height catches up to me, and I reach out to open the cupboard and find it empty. Suddenly, as if I'm realizing it for the first time, I remember that the entire house is like this: barren.

I move through the house, haunting it, forcing it to stay alive. Talk back, I think, yanking the doors open. Say something, and I'm slamming the drawers shut. I wind up in the living room, studying the sunlight as it dots my hands in a strange, familiar pattern.

They forgot to take down the lace curtains. Still, in the empty house, the aged fabric filters the afternoon light into lines of gold.

I push the curtains aside–like I've done a thousand times before–and peer through the window into the backyard. Outside, our fig tree remains stubbornly rooted in the dirt, dotted with purple fruit. It is a view straight out of my memories, but I'm not imagining it. Am I? I sink to my knees and rest my chin on the windowsill. Maybe I am, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe even when I leave, I'll remain. Like figs. Like lace.