Long-time readers: by now, you should know the drill. Here’s a photo.
Below there’s a draft of something. And then I explain it all.
Outside, on the driveway, the dozen black garbage bags stacked up against the siding are beginning to stink. Inside, the bleach is reacting with the glue in the particle board and my head is swimming. The beer is warm. The drawer is still missing. I wonder if she kept everything that was in it — the kitchen shears, the rusted churchkey, the ball of twine, the ladle, the steak knife, the egg timer. I doubt it. She hadn’t said she wanted any of that. She just wanted the drawer. Not even that, really, because what the hell do you do with a drawer? She didn’t want to take anything from me. What she really wanted was to leave me with something. This hole. Every time I walk in the kitchen, reach for a beer or fill a glass at the sink, there’s the hole. Here I am, it says. This is what I did to you. But it’s okay. I know she kept the drawer. Even if she trashed everything that’s in it, she kept the drawer. Maybe it’s not in her kitchen, maybe it’s in her garage, or her basement. Somewhere she rarely goes. But she goes there, once in a while, and when she pulls the string on that bare lightbulb, there it is, white and tilting on the shelf beside the dryer. There he is, it says. This is what he gave you.
I spotted this photo in a hallway at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where I started teaching this week. I love student gallery space — the work is so fresh and daring as people try to figure out how they want to express their art — and so I spent a lot of my free time wandering the halls examining paintings, sketches, sculpture, installation pieces, photographs, and so on. There’s a LOT of really fascinating work there, but this photo immediately made me want to write a story.
As a story, this is really pretty flawed. It doesn’t really make sense without the photo, I think. And while I like how short it is, it’s relying too heavily on a cliché situation and overt psychobabble. Still, that hole in the drawers is what draws me to this photo — that’s where the story is — and that demands a kind of brevity and highly imagistic or figurative language, I think. So, whatever this winds up being, that’s the direction it’s headed.