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  • Brian C. Billings

A Marriage in Beds

I. Single

The futon’s fabric was bare; the stuffing was shot through with collapse from our sitting lap-stacked in the center. One hundred feature lengths left us engaged and rump-touching the floor. We loved our Gordian tangle of limbs, resisted surrendering those warm apartment dawns ensconced, squared, until we grudgingly gave the bed its dumpster death.

II. Double

French windows greeted the headboard. They overlooked a cul-de-sac majestic in the Disco Age, now dismayed— like us between posts—by Spanish façades. We rolled apart-together-apart but always ready with a touch of young embarrassment—our rings were fresh. We bounced on comforters we could finally afford and promised no more ramen, no more chips, no more habitual stains.

III. Queen

Pillow-topped and corner-cropped with layers of bouncy foam, it was my parents’ bequest— a seven-years-later wedding gift that slid from their best guest room into our evolving retreat on wheels of hints and hopes. Crib-flushed, the upgrade crowded with its footage, larger than its container . . . like the queen who dwarfed her island or my wife in her motherly flush.

IV. King

The hotel went under, so we went in; we bargained in a mattress morgue—three dozen slabs sans sleepers sans ticking sans ’steads. Just white and dead. Waiting. Bungeed to the van’s roof, cocooning plastic billowed and lifted us higher on the highway. The folded pallet cut ruts in the walls, toppled years of prideful kitsch, and sent toddlers howling; but in the master, it spread and spilled like all our lives at rest at last.

Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on July 27, 2019

2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee

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