By Maci Tooley
The shoes are in the middle of the room. Normally, Sam puts them by the door. But today the door is blocked off by the couch, and she had to put her shoes in the middle of the room. The worn rubber presses into the clean carpet, leaving behind traces of dirt and old gum in the middle of the room.
The couch is in front of the door because the apartment is the wrong shape. When Sam’s dad bought it, he thought the couch would fit against the wall across from the fireplace. But the room was too short to fit the couch, so it would sit sideways across the living room. Whenever Sam brought her new art projects inside, they had to be lifted over the couch so they could fit through the entryway, because the apartment was the wrong shape. But now, Sam had it pushed up against the door so she could paint over the white spot on the wall.
There is a white spot on the wall because Sam threw her picture frame. Not the nice picture frame that was on the mantle with the picture of her and her dad standing out in the grass of the football field, swinging her baby brother by his arms between them. Nor the big picture frame with the school photos in unorganized arrangement. Sam threw the small wooden frame with the picture of her and Shaun in it.
Sam threw the picture frame because Shaun is dead. Shaun was not looking out into her living room, smiling with his head resting on Sam’s shoulder. He was not clutching a basketball under his right arm, and his eyes were not open. Sam threw the picture frame because it lied to her.
Sam painted over the freshly fixed spot on the wall with blue paint. It did not compliment the yellow walls of the apartment, and in fact created quite an eyesore. A large, blue spot in the middle of the wall of the badly shaped apartment, with shoes in the middle of the room. That is what Sam felt like. No more relentless emotions bashing around in her head. Only a big, dark spot in the center of a wall in a terribly shaped apartment, with shoes in the middle of the room.
She used blue paint because the hardware store didn't have the right shade of yellow. She wanted the right shade of yellow to put over the white spot on the wall to make it look like there had never been a hole there. She wanted there to be no white spot, no hole, no picture frame, and everything to be the right shade of yellow.
Sam used to dream of the perfect life in the nights where she sat upon the train tracks with Shaun. She used to dream of a perfectly shaped apartment to fit her couch, where the walls were the right shade of yellow, and there were three picture frames upon the mantle. She dreamed of a place where there were no shoes in the middle of the room.
She dreamed of a place with Shaun in it. Where he could paint over the holes in the walls, and move the couch to fit the perfectly sized apartment. Where he could look out into the living room, basketball under his right arm, huge smile on his face, as he rests his head upon her shoulder. She dreamed of a place where there wasn't an ugly blue spot in the middle of the wall. Or a lying picture frame. Or a couch in front of the door. She dreamed of a place where his shoes were in the middle of the room.
She dreamed because dreaming was easier than painting over the white spot on the wall. She would rather dream than bury him. She would rather dream than look at his picture frame. She would rather dream than move his shoes from the middle of the room.
Shaun held her hand as she moved the brush up and down the white spot on the wall. He gripped it tightly as the blue got bigger and bigger until the expansive darkness covered every bit of yellow. She poured the paint along the wall, wiping it around the surface with her hands as if it would keep him there. She pulled at him and he clawed at her, and before she knew it she was on the floor with his arms wrapped around her.
He held her close to his chest as she wept and screamed, falling apart at his fingertips as she had done a million times before. She pounded on his chest with her blue painted fists and pleaded for him to come back to her. He pulled her closer and rested his lips upon her forehead, quietly shushing her as she melted under him.
This is not the way it was meant to be. He was supposed to be taking her to homecoming and being her wingman and buying her coffees. He was supposed to help her with her homework and push her to get her chores done. He was supposed to pick her up on Saturday nights and take her out to parties she didn't want to go to, only to end up enjoying herself. He was supposed to sit in the grass, a basketball under his right arm, and rest his head upon her shoulder while he laughed. He was supposed to walk in the front door like he lived there, and leave his shoes in the middle of the room.
But he left. And before she knew it, it was just her, crumpled on the ground and rolled in blue paint. Her whimpers and groans ceased and for a moment, she felt nothing. She was not angry or sad. She was just Sam. She was still Sam.
She picked up her brush and finished painting the yellow wall blue. She showered, dressed, and put the picture frame back on the mantle. She pushed the couch back in it's crooked place across the room. And she picked up her shoes, and moved them from the middle of the room.