The Deception of Ordinary Objects | Originally published in Red Light Lit (print only) January 2015
It was inside the desk where she hid all of her secrets. On the surface were the objects that immediately spoke of the history she didn’t want to hide. The mahogany pencil boxed, handmade and carved with intricate leaves and vines, given to her by her grandmother on the day of her high school graduation; the framed photo of her grandmother, who did not live to see her college graduation; and her favorite coffee mug, the one she says she can’t work without.
Inside the drawers is where she kept her treasures. The ordinary things that people would think are junk. In the back of one drawer lay the paper wristband from the pier. Torn from when he ripped it from her wrist as they fucked on the sand underneath the boardwalk. Twisted from her carrying it around in the pockets of every pants she wore after he left. In the second drawer lay the single of “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads. He gave it to her after their third date and he said this would probably be the best way to describe her.
He swooned above her while she was tied to the bed, pantomiming David Byrne, bobbing his head to the bass intro and lip synching:
I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me I'm a real live wire
Qu'est-ce que c'est
Run run run run run run run away
It was the day before he left.
The third drawer housed all the objects after he left: the hair tie that had some of his red strands twisted around the black elastic, the receipt from their last dinner together, the Chap Stick that touched his lips, and the guitar pick that he would flip between his fingers but never bring to the instrument.
The fourth drawer contained a stack of photographs. They showed him leaving his house, him washing his car, going to the grocery story, and going on dates with women that were not her. There were a series of infrared photos also in the drawer after she became interested in night photography. The photos of him sleeping, where the open blinds left vertical striped patterns across his body were her favorite.
In the trashcan by her feet, lay the restraining order he filed after she left some of the photographs on his door step. She made copies of her favorites and thought he would appreciate them.
She sat at her desk, staring at the wall, and flipping the pick between her fingers. Her foot tapped while she sang, “Psycho Killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est…” wondering what to do next.
Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Women Who Submit, Entropy, Jaded Ibis Press, Midnight Breakfast, and Why There Are Words. Her work can be found at The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, The Weeklings, Red Light Lit, and others. You can find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide.