We didn’t know the bed was cursed.
It was a mahogany disaster. It took both of us to move the frame up the apartment stairs. Alyssa and I were laughing and sweaty by the time we collapsed in the bedroom.
“You always make me do all the heavy work. Taking out the garbage, moving things, mowing the lawn…” Alyssa said.
“We don’t have a lawn.” I looked at her. Half of her hair had fallen out of her ponytail and her bra strap had slid half down her shoulder. She was beautiful.
We didn’t finish putting the bed together that night, but it didn’t matter.
Katie – you put an IKEA mattress on a bed that’s three hundred years old
no way it’s that old. Shannon’s full of it.
it was nice of her to give us the bed
how did she get a bed that nice? she’s practically homeless
it’s not like you’re rich
i’m going to bed
NOTE LEFT ON THE PILLOW, FOUND LATER ON FLOOR:
Kat — I’m sorry about last night. Chinese? My treat. XOXOXXXXX
It was hard to sleep well in the bed. Alyssa blamed the mattress but it had never kept us from sleeping or cuddling before.
It was worse when one of us was sleeping and the other wasn’t. It rattled and twitched, amplifying even my slightest movement. As Alyssa started snoring and my eyes began to close, the bed would creak just as I was about to fall asleep. Every time I threw an arm over her, the frame groaned.
We never woke up wrapped around each other anymore.
Lyss, can you take out the garbage? It’s piling up
you always ask me
It’s heavy. and I’m at work.
you want me to do all the man jobs
WTF is a man job
no, I don’t – what century are you in?
your mom asked me if i was the man in our relationship
don’t want to talk about mom right now I’m at work
you never want to talk
my parents aren’t like yours OK??? not everyone is cool with this
NOTE LEFT ON THE REFRIGERATOR:
Took out the garbage. Don’t wake me up when you get home. – A
“Hi Katie! Hope you don’t mind me calling — it’s Rebecca. I’m in town and thought maybe we could go out for a drink? If Alyssa doesn’t mind. I mean, if you two are still together. I heard you got Shannon’s bed? What’s that about? You know it’s cursed, right? See you soon. Byeeeee.”
“Explain to me this cursed bed thing.” I hadn’t been to the Rose in the nine months Alyssa and I had been together. It looked the same and so did Rebecca.
“I don’t know much about it. I never dated Shannon.” Rebecca fidgeted with the toothpick in her martini. She’d had that habit as long as I’d known her — when we were dating, I thought it was cute. Now it was just annoying.
“You can’t just say cursed bed and not explain it.”
“Okay. Supposedly, the bed breaks people apart.”
“I can tell you it doesn’t vibrate or shake or anything — it might be better if it did.”
“Not like that. It’s just — every couple who’s ever slept in the bed eventually just doesn’t want to sleep together. Not just sex… cuddling and shit too.” She smiled. “I could help you test that.”
I stood up, realizing that I shouldn’t even be here. Especially not with Rebecca.
“It was nice seeing you again. I’ll let you know what happens with the bed.”
NOTE LEFT ON PILLOW, FOUND LATER ON FLOOR:
Lyss, This sounds crazy, but can we sleep on the couch tonight? I’ll meet you there. Love you.
NOTE LEFT ON PILLOW:
Why did you sleep on the couch? I’m going to my parents’ house tonight so I can think about stuff.
Please be home when I get off work tomorrow. — A.
Hey Shannon, it’s Katie. We need to talk.
It’s the bed, isn’t it?
Lyss & i never hooked up on it, if thats what your asking
Ugh no, that’s not what I want to know. Rebecca says its cursed
Becca would know, she gave me the fucking bed
she’s not wrong about that weird thing about how everybody who sleeps in it breaks up
That’s not why i gave you guys the bed
lyss just said you needed a bed
“Hi, is this Movers and More?”
“Yes, it is. How can I help you?”
“I need a bed moved.”
“We can help you with that. Where are we going with it?”
“The dump. Hey, do you do garbage too?”
Sorry I slept on the couch
don’t go to your parents house unless you want to
i took out the garbage
“Where’s the bed?” Alyssa stands in our bedroom. Without the massive bed frame to fill the room, the distance between us feels vast. I want to reach out and kiss her, but I don’t. It’s been so long that I’m afraid she’ll push me away.
“It was cursed.”
Alyssa just starts laughing.
“And you emptied the garbage too? Really? Or did the movers do it?”
“I was the one who called them,” I say in a very small voice.
“I should be so mad at you.” She closes the gap between us, first with her steps and then with her mouth. After the kiss finishes, we’re both flushed but I haven’t seen her smile like that in days. “But I hated that bed. And I still love you.”
All I can think of as we crash together down on the couch is how very lucky we are. And that night, we sleep on the floor.
Gwen Whiting is an author and museum curator living and working in Tacoma, Washington. Her short stories can also be seen at Daily Science Fiction. Learn more about her work at gwen-whiting.com.