Assignment: One object, three scenarios
1. Goddamn stupid screws and where the hell is that goddamn stupid screwdriver? I yanked the junk drawer out, dumped the whole goddamn thing on the floor. No screwdriver. Scissors, though. I grabbed the stupid things, remembered when I bought them, on sale, on sale because they were lefty scissors, which I didn’t realize till I arrived home and tried to used them to cut the legs off some pants I wanted to make into a cute skirt – I’d seen a how-to video online and a girl could always use another goddamn skirt, right? Especially if her stupid boyfriend had been cheating on her for the past two months with that goddamn Liza from the bar. He should be here screwing together this stupid table for the stupid TV. I don’t even like TV, but goddamn if I’m going to let him take it. These stupid lefty scissors work good enough to put it all together and tomorrow I’ll go down to the goddamn hardware store and get a screwdriver. Hell, I’ll wear a cute skirt and act confused until one of those hardbodied workers offers to come over and do it for me. Yeah, I’ll say, that’d be great. Wait till my stupid EX-boyfriend hears about that. Screw him.
2. The silk slipped through her fingers, a pink waterfall splashing onto the tiled floor. Drats, Melanie thought. Everything that made it attractive made it hard to work with. She re-gathered the fabric, pinched it tightly, returned to sliding pins through the doubled yards. Isabella slept on the couch. She’d wanted to help, but exhaustion had overtaken her. Melanie considered moving her to her bed, but was afraid Bella would wake and try to assist in the costume construction once again. She understood that allowing her to take part in the project was hypothetically a good thing, that it would make her feel self-sufficient and provide a bonding moment in their mother-daughter relationship. It would slow her down, however, and she needed to finish this and get some sleep herself. Sirens flared up outside, grew louder, then softer. The windchimes nudged each other. Isabella had picked out those chimes, enamored of the metal birds and the way the wind made them take flight, make music. Melanie saw crashing cranes and another layer of noise in a neighborhood that already had too much of it – but she couldn’t say no to Isabella. Which is why she found herself hunched over the kitchen table, cutting fabric under flickering fluorescents. Isabella needed a Halloween costume and she wanted to be an angel. A pink angel ballerina. She was an angel, Melanie thought, working the scissors carefully, keeping the line straight. She deserves beautiful.
3. “So anyway, there I was, banging this chick,” Joey began. Robert winced. His stomach clenched.
“Yeah, I don’t need to hear this,” he said.
“Dude, why so uptight?” Joey whined. “You need to get laid.” No, Robert thought, no, I don’t. What I need is to not cross paths with you every day. If only I’d taken the other apartment in the other building. No doubt I’d be happily comparing Chicken Cordon Bleu recipes with a better neighbor. We’d agree that locally raised, free-range chickens are best, of course, but argue about which cheese complimented and whether or not you should partially fry before you bake.
“Look, just let me tell you this story,” Joey continued. “It’s fucking hilarious.” Robert prayed the elevator would get to the 10th floor before Joey achieved climax. Floor 9. Too late. “So, yeah, and not only did she like it like that, but she asked me to do it again,” Joey said. The indicator lit up. 10. The doors opened.
“Your floor,” Robert said. “Dude, come have a drink with me,” Joey said, stopping in the elevator doorway. The doors wanted to close, Robert thought. They’re poised, waiting for this jerk to step out of the way.
“Come on,” Joey continued. “I’ve got some excellent whiskey.” “Can’t,” Robert said. “So much work. Thanks, though.” Joey didn’t budge. “But it’s my birthday, dude. You have to at least have one drink with me.” The very upbringing that caused bile to erupt in Robert’s throat every time Joey opened his mouth also insisted that, for politeness’ sake, he have a drink with the man. For his birthday.
“In that case,” Robert shrugged and followed Joey to number 1004. “Apartment 10-4,” Joey announced. “Roger that, good buddy? Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if your name was Roger?”
Jesus, was Joey already drunk? Robert thought. He could feel his desire to be elsewhere scuttle through his skin. “Oh, hey, here’s that chick from last night.” Joey leaned over his computer, clicked his mouse. “See? Hot, right?” Robert glanced despite himself. To be polite. Then looked for real. The hair. The curve of neck. The way she held her head slightly to the side, just like she used to in softball games. He hadn’t seen her since the ugly, ugly divorce, but he wrote to her every week, sure that with enough time, she’d, if not understand, at least know she could have a relationship with her father again. Girls needed their fathers, he knew. Otherwise they ended up in terrible situations with awful men. Like Joey.
“I don’t even know if she was legal, man, but lookit that ass!” Joey gaped at the computer screen. Robert’s hand moved to the scissors lying on the desk. He watched as his hand lifted the scissors, clenched them, drove them hard into the side of Joey’s throat. Joey’s eyes turned from the screen to Robert. His mouth formed an O. He fell. Blood spurted, then puddled. Robert stepped back to avoid the mess. He kept the scissors in his hand and touched nothing as he left.