Adjustments, Andrea Jackson

Gillian Sargeant, Cathedral, 3′ X 2′

 


Adjustments

 

They learned not to walk through the living room but instead to walk around its perimeter, staying close to the walls, rubbing up at times against the yellow wallpaper, which seemed to have its own story to tell. Not looking down – this was important – not even glancing toward the large rectangular cavity in the middle, where the heirloom oriental rug used to rest.

What ever had happened to the rug? So much had already been lost, and the past and present mingled to where some of them seriously maintained that perhaps the gaping emptiness had been there the whole time, shoved under the rug and concealed by the silence of generations of their now deceased ancestors.

They did look, of course, briefly, cunningly, only to glimpse layer upon layer of ancient soils and rock, criss-crossed and penetrated by practical-looking pipes and cables, with a metal ladder clinging to the vertical wall on one side and a narrow shelf circumnavigating the hole about 13 feet down from the floor on which they walked, pretending not to look and still less to see. As for the bottom of the cavity, they could not discern it, even when they stared with the help of surreptitious flashlights. Their wands of light shone feebly on what seemed an endless blackness.

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Andrea Jackson