By KJ Hannah Greenberg
The fibers sloughed a bit at the back rest’s edges. Long before, the chair’s seat had begun fraying. Jones fingered the disrupted weave.
If he sat and then rubbed his leg up and down against the material, say for maybe ten thousand iterations, as was his inclination, he might unpin more of the upholstery strings. He lowered himself to bounce against the cushions.
Unlike Amila, he was cured. Whereas she washed before and after eating, before and after touching her keyboard, before and after dusting, and several times in the middle of their intimacies, creating awkward intermissions in their commingled sweating, huffing and crying, he no longer had to repeatedly comb his hair.
No more did Jones comb upon waking, after brushing his teeth, between dressing and praying, or even after taking a walk on a windy day. He was well-liberated from that comforting behavior.
Jones rubbed his leg along the edge of the chair. The movement was so heartening. He did it again and again. He hoped Amila, too, would soon be cured.
He loved her more than most things, except for his chair and his styling devices. In anticipation, he looked up when she entered the salon.
Easing under the room’s lintel, her overlong bangs traversing that threshold ahead of the rest of her face, the woman Jones loved next pulled one of her hands into the room. Satisfied with the ambient temperature, the amount of sunlight, or something else undetectable to her husband, she allowed her entirety to cross over.
Amila’s legs were camel-like. Her feet were unnaturally large. To Jones though, she possessed the grace of a ballet dancer or gymnast.
He bounced again. He had completed three hundred and four repetitions. He executed his three hundred and fifth before addressing his beloved.
Reflexively, Amila waved her hair out of her eyes. Immediately, she looked down at the appendage she had used to accomplish that movement, grimaced and then fled the room.
Jones could hear water running in the bathroom. While he waited, he repeated his motion ten more times.
Amila reappeared. She deposited a latex glove on Jones’s lap.
Jones smiled at her and rubbed his leg against his chair again. If he was diligent, he could achieve more than one thousand reprises before lunch.
Spasmodically, Amila jutted a finger toward the piece of furniture from which Jones launched and returned. The chair’s hue reminded her of the water in St. Croix’s Chenay Bay. On their honeymoon, she had avoided some of her more commonplace trips to sinks or to other basins by staying in the water.
In balance, after lingering in that shallow, she had had to purchase multiple bottles of antibacterial soap. It seemed incomprehensible to her that brine could ward off microbes.
Jones pulled his shoulders toward his chest as Amila approached. If she touched his chair, all of his efforts would become invalidated.
Ever cunning, he pointed to a spot on the floor. From his angle, he could see the sweat pooled there. Given the time of day and the nature of the sunlight, though, Amila could not.
His wife stooped and reached. Immediately, she screamed and ran back into the bathroom.
Jones kept bouncing.
Need some help with the direction? Loved the writing, but is the chair a symbol of a relationship or? Nice writing
Feels like they are in a halfway house for recovering OCD cases. He ‘cured’ himself it seems by transferring all his attention to a single item. I might have gone another way with this story. He has grown away from his wife, and this creates a schism between them that deepens as he challenges her. I would have had them dialogue as to why he had changed, how she could change and grow with him. Then have her try to sabotage his cure by her sitting in the chair. This is a frequent problem I have had to manage when one spouse loses a lot of weight and gathers attention from the opposite sex. Then the unchanged spouse tries to sabotage the success. Might inspire your next piece. Thanks KJ
I give up. Too dense for me. But Keith’s explanation sounds good.
I thought this was a funny story about “it takes ones to know one,” albeit to the extreme. Jones loves Amila, yet sees all her faults while blind to his own. I don’t understand the “salon” reference, though. Perhaps it’s another name for a parlor? I doubt that such people could work in a beauty salon where they have to touch people. The other curiosity in the story was the pool of sweat on the floor. That did not seem believable to me, but didn’t greatly effect my enjoyment of this piece’s bizarre characters.