First published by rip Publishing on 24 August 2014
Harry refused to hire removalists again.
He insisted I was stronger than I looked, even though – after last time we moved – I had a heat pack more-or-less surgically attached to my neck for a month.
The fridge was The Heifer, because it had taken half an hour of sweating and swearing to get it out of the trailer last time. The nickname stuck. Sorting the groceries: should these go in The Heifer?
The couch was The Diva. She had refused to fit in the elevator of our last building and had to have her own pulley system fashioned so she could be eased up into the living room via the balcony. I imagined the ropes as a giant cabaret swing and that The Diva was wearing a big tiara, singing ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ while onlookers threw sequined cushions into her lap. Whenever we started getting busy on The Diva, Harry put a stop to proceedings and suggested we move to the bedroom or wait until Grand Designs was over. Sex on the couch is for teenagers.
And the bookshelf was Mr Cellophane. You know the song, Harry said. From Chicago. Mr Cellophane. You can walk right by me, look right through me, and never know I’m there. He sang it with an irritating flourish.
Mr Cellophane was unremarkable. He had no place there. Moving days made him morbidly self-conscious. He deadened every corner he slouched in and was repeatedly replaced by a handsome cabinet or a multi-talented leaning shelf.
We left him on the balcony while we figured out the rest. We coaxed The Diva into her corner. We hip-and-shouldered things. We kicked at the futon and set a stately lamp in six different places. Domestic tetris.
The idea with Mr Cellophane was that you put the little bolts in the holes and the shelves rest on the plastic nubs, so they must be lined up perfectly. But we didn’t get that far. We’ll just keep him there for the moment, we said.
One day a strong wind came and pushed Mr Cellophane about so that he tipped and shuddered against the balcony railing. A forlorn brown backslash.
We heard the clatter but we didn’t right him for a week or two.
Occasionally someone would say, why don’t you put plants in that thing? You could keep herbs in trays. Harry would always say what a nice idea it was, as though we’d never thought of it ourselves. And then he’d tell them how Mr Cellophane came to be on the balcony, and sing the song again.
I’d say that we should never have brought it upstairs in the first place, should have just taken it to the tip. Then I would imagine the two of us – Mr Cellophane and I – me holding him weightlessly over my head and launching him like a javelin onto a soft mound of landfill.
At first he’d stick out. But then the damp and the flies would come, and he would finally rot. Happily invisible.