The Last of It
Mark lowered himself onto the new bed. He immediately noticed how much smaller it was. He imagined himself tossing and turning, falling off of it when he tried to sleep later that night.
He lost himself in the rhythm of the ceiling fan. The cold air felt great on his sweltering face. His drenched shirt stuck to him, soaked through from earlier when he had navigated the old bed frame and mattress down the stairs.
He glanced at his watch–2:55. Five more minutes. Reaching over to the night table, he grabbed his scotch, the glass cool and comforting in his hands. He tossed what was left down his throat and returned the glass to the table.
He clasped his hands together, massaging them back and forth, interlocking his fingers again and again. He still was surprised at how naked they felt. He forced himself to stand up and walked to the door, taking a last look at the new bed before walking down the stairs.
In the kitchen, he made himself another scotch and walked outside and sat down on the stoop. He drank his scotch and turned his head, staring down the road, waiting for the garbage man and his green truck.
He arrived about a minute later. The man nodded at Mark and gave a quick wave before beginning to dump the pile into the truck. Mark brought the glass to his lips and took a sip as he watched the pile get tossed roughly, uncaringly, into the truck. Sheets and pillowcases, a small pile of left-over clothes, shoe boxes filled with pictures and cards, Christmas ornaments, stuffed animals, and a bunch of other things whose size, shape, color, and meaning Mark no longer wished to remember.
And then the last of it. Mark watched the man struggle with the king-sized mattress. The man had had no trouble with the wooden box spring. It was sturdy and easy to grip and fit into the back of the truck without having to be broken. But the mattress was another story, and it kept wiggling and falling out of the garbage man’s grasp as he tried to lift it into the truck. Mark thought about going to help but just sat and watched and drank his scotch.
Mark downed the rest of the scotch, and the man finished dumping the mattress. He turned around to look at Mark and waved goodbye, a far less enthusiastic wave than his first. Mark made a mental note to pick up a bottle for the man when he went to the liquor store later that night, a gift for his effort. He told himself to make sure not to forget as he walked into the house to fix a drink.