If These Walls Could Talk

In a lonely household there are animate objects.

Riley Vainionpaa

November 9, 2015 | Cult | Fall 2015

pee-wees-playhouse

Amelia talks to her fridge sometimes. They have long conversations, most of which revolve around the old sandwich Amelia left inside and refuses to remove.

“Just throw it out,” the fridge will protest. “You just have to pick it up and put it in the garbage.”

“But what if I decide that I want to eat it?” Amelia refutes, rearranging the top shelf. She moves the milk jug in front of the water filter, then back behind it, then in front again, relocates the salsa to the shelf in the door, undecided as to whether it belongs with the salad dressings or the pasta sauces.

The fridge flickers its light in disgust and knocks over the mayonnaise jar. “The cheese isn’t even cheese anymore. It’s just mold. You’ll die if you eat it.”

Amelia decides that the salsa should go with the barbecue sauces. “So I’ll take the cheese off.” She pulls out a Tupperware of week-old chili, lifts the lid and sniffs. A little sour, but still acceptable. She turns to put it in the microwave.

“No, not again.” The microwave refuses to open, no matter how hard Amelia tugs on the handle. “The last time you put chili in me, it exploded everywhere. I smelled like kidney beans for a month.” Amelia threatens to switch the breaker, and the microwave concedes. “I hate it when you do that!” says the microwave. “It’s so disorienting, I can’t remember the time.”

While her chili spins and pops in the microwave, Amelia circles the house. Her appliances didn’t always talk to her. It must have started around the time Jenna moved out. The furniture, too. The day she finally admitted to herself that Jenna wasn’t coming back, she couldn’t even shower, she just dragged herself from her bed to the couch. Now, the couch had a few things to say about that. Namely, that she ought to have more decency than to splay her filthy body all over its cushions, and who did she think she was, and just because she’d bought it on Craigslist from a guy with a soul patch didn’t mean it didn’t deserve some respect. Amelia mumbled a curse at the couch, then slunk to the bathroom and spent the next hour lying on the shower floor, ignoring how empty the lip of the tub looked without Jenna’s array of curly-haired conditioners.

Now, she’s used to the constant chatter. She knows that the couch is cranky, but that the armchair is downright mean. She knows that if the lamp on her side table gets too worked up, its bulb will shatter, which will cause the side table to have to comfort the lamp while Amelia sweeps up the broken glass. She knows the dining room table is a useless nag, always moaning about how they never have company over anymore. She knows that the rug likes to keep to itself, mostly, although there was the time she let a stray dog in to track its muddy paws all over, and she didn’t hear the end of it for weeks. Amelia knows her house better than anyone. After all, she hasn’t left in months.

The microwave announces that her chili is ready, mumbling something about the tomato splatter on its walls. She takes the bowl, dances her fingers over the hot surface, and sets it on the table.

“You know what could be really fun?” the table asks as Amelia spoons chili into her mouth. “A dinner party.” Amelia scrunches her nose and continues to eat. “Come on! Think about it. You, surrounded by all your friends. Me, covered in mounds of food, all of my places set. Oh! And you could use the nice placemats! God, I miss the feel of a proper placemat…”

“We don’t have any placemats,” Amelia snapped. “Jenna took them.”

“Then go get some.”

“I’m not having a dinner party.”

“But why not,” the table whines. “I need some attention. Half of the time you don’t even use me, you  eat your dinner on the couch! That’s not even what it’s made for!”

“Against my wishes!” the couch calls from across room.

“You’re pleather, you wipe off just fine,” Amelia mumbles into her spoon. She does eat on the couch rather a lot. The table feels too big, too empty when there’s no one else there. Besides, she takes quite a lot of pleasure in watching Giada de Laurentiis cook a three course meal while she shovels off-brand macaroni and cheese into her face straight from the pot.

“Amelia compensates by spreading several hardcover books down Jenna’s side of the bed, sleeps with her arm tossed over Don Quixote and her foot pushed against several Saga trades.”

When she’s done with her chili, Amelia dumps the bowl in the sink, fills it with water and leaves it there. She would take a nap, but her bed never shuts up about how its left side is cold now, how everything feels lopsided. Amelia compensates by spreading several hardcover books down Jenna’s side of the bed, sleeps with her arm tossed over Don Quixote and her foot pushed against several Saga trades. Still, the bed complains. So tonight she sleeps on the rug. She pushes the coffee table out of the way, and spreads a knit blanket across the floor.She flicks on the television. An infomercial lights up the screen. A man with too much smile for his tiny face holds a tiny blender, and begins shouting 1-800-TINY-BLENDER at her.

“1-800-TINY-BLENDER! 1-800-TINY-BLENDER! The tiniest blender of them all! Great for smoothies! Great for single servings! Oh yeah! Just look at this thing go! So tiny! Wow!” Amelia turns down the volume until she can’t hear the words anymore, just static. She curls up on the rug and falls asleep to the white noise.

 

Image credit: Pee-wee’s Playhouse 

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Riley Vainionpaa

Riley is a senior at the University of Victoria, where she studies Creative Writing. She cares deeply about Canadian television, speculative fiction, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, live theatre, sociolinguistics, and climbing things without knowing how to get back down. Tweet her @RileyVainionpaa

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