Master Bedroom

Sonja Vitow


After you left, I tried to sleep in our bed and found the mattress too hard on your side and too soft on mine. I laid in the middle and pretended I was both of us which worked for a little while. The bedroom was too hot, so I opened the window and filled the room with new air. I started to shiver, so I closed it again. I started to suffocate so I opened the window again, dizzy from lack of oxygen and the six Marlboros I took from the pack you left in your bureau. The midnight wind breezed through the window and made the papers on my bedside table dance. Their happiness made me suffer so I closed the window again. I pulled the curtains so they overlapped and clung together. I left the room.


That’s the last time I was in there. I walk past the shut-tight door and pretend there’s nothing behind it. I sleep like a nomad, often like a cliché on the living room sofa, once drunk in the bathtub, on the hammock outside if it’s nice out, tight in the closet when things are really bad. My back hurts when I wake up but it’s the sort of pain that I can handle.


Now I think about the room as half-storage, half-black hole. I throw things in there when I don’t know where to put them, knowing that I will never see them again. The first thing I tossed into our empty bedroom was the photo album from our trip to the Greek Isles. I buried our suntanned faces in more trash: unread instruction manuals, watches with dead batteries, vintage T-shirts I swore I would save for my children. There are no neat piles of carefully stacked papers in that room, but wild communities of colorful discards who root, leaf and multiply behind the closed door.


The purple orchids from the kitchen died last week, and yesterday I finally remembered to store their hollow ceramic pot in the bedroom. I approached the door that I often pretend is not there and viewed the giant pile of earthly flotsam, which fills the square footage of the floor and even grazes the ceiling. The pot knocked hard into the mountain, careening into its shape and causing the great structure to tumble outward like an avalanche of poorly kept secrets. The detritus threatened to spill out of the bedroom, to flood the whole house with all these things I used to own. I slammed the door shut and dedicated the full weight of myself to keeping it closed, pushing hard against the mess that you made.