December 22, 2021 by The Citron Review
by Abbie Barker
Our apartment is shrinking. While we sleep, the walls inch closer. Every few days, something disappears. Last week the blender. This week our bed.
We don’t know how it happens. Wouldn’t the movement make a sound, like a rumble or a groan? Wouldn’t we feel the thud of our mattress hitting the floor?
Some things we are happy to see go. Grandma Ruth’s rocking chair never meshed with our living room. We didn’t have the heart to donate the monogrammed serving tray we received as a wedding gift. Turns out, we didn’t have to.
“They won’t take my baseball cards, will they?” My husband asks.
“Who’s they?” I say.
My husband says we should stay up all night. We could close our eyes in shifts. I offer to sleep first. But the next morning we both wake with the sun. We measure the width of the apartment and find we’ve lost another inch. Our comforter is missing.
Later, we open the apartment door and discover a gap in the hallway. Nothing above or below but white light. “Hello!” I shout across the empty space. “Is this where our stuff goes?”
I start sleeping with my espresso machine, clutched against my chest.
“That won’t change anything,” my husband says.
“I have to try,” I say.
We are told to stay indoors, that this too will pass. They say if we wait it out, everything will return. My husband hopes some things stay, “wherever the hell it went.”
“That’s the spirit,” I say.
We pass the time with Monopoly and thousand-piece dog puzzles. In the afternoon, my husband thrashes through our game closet. “Not Skip-Bo, too!” he says.
“Will we vanish all at once or in pieces?” I ask.
“Don’t say that,” my husband says.
“So, you’d rather get crushed?”
Every morning we squint through the peephole and watch our neighbors’ slip away. Every day we live with less. Inside this narrowing apartment, we wait. We don’t know what for.
Abbie Barker lives with her husband and two kids in New Hampshire. Her flash fiction has appeared in Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, and others. She teaches creative writing and is a reader for Fractured Lit. Her work has been longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 and nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Read more at abbiebarker.com.