Jesse Jarnow

the animals i saw, no. 7

(Short fiction in shorter increments.)

The Animals I Saw: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10

The large, fuzzy spider in the linen closet did not shake me nearly as much as the top sheets. The creature sat unmoving in the flashlight beam, atop a floral pillowcase that looked like it came from a discount chain. I blew on it lightly and it scampered an inch. By then, the rain had started, and it was much later and I was much drunker than I suspected. It did not sound as if the storm would abet.

I threw the blue down comforter over my shoulder and shined the light to see if there was anything else I needed. On the bottom shelf was the top sheet, white with a plane of red, green, and yellow grids, like a Mondrian. Its match, I was sure, was in my father’s current apartment, if he hadn’t thrown it out. He was in Butte, then, I think, though it was hard to keep up. It was the sheet he stretched over our couch when guests slept over, and what he slept on when my mother sent him downstairs for good and, eventually, out.

On the couch, my feet pressed against the far arm. The house sounded familiar: the rain on the roof (there was no second story over the living room), the wind through the uninsulated walls. When I woke, the house would be mine, really mine. I wished I had the sheaf of xeroxes with me, but that was at the Becketts’. No matter, the sheets were proof enough, if not for the law, then at least for me, that my family had really once occupied the place, a place my father never again acknowledged after we’d been forced from it. I was not hungover the next morning.