Center Stage

Jackson opened the closet door, switched on the light and looked around. He loosened his tie and slid it from his neck. “Where did we go?” He stood there, not sure of where to hang his tie, now that everything had changed.
“I’m not sure,” Kathy said, taking the tie and folding in half then half again. She slid open the top drawer of a massive dresser that hadn’t been there that morning, when the two of them had kissed each other goodbye and left in separate cars for work. “Ties go here now, I guess.”
Jackson peeked inside the drawer. His ties were rolled and lined up in a neat five-by-five matrix.

Kathy unfolded the tie and rolled it like the others before tucking it into the drawer, making a new column. “It looks funny there all alone.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Jackson pushed the drawer closed. One by one, he opened his new drawers and looked inside. Socks arranged by color. Boxers and tee-shirts, neatly folded.
“Did they iron those?” Kathy pointed.
“Looks like it, doesn’t it?”
“Don’t expect me to iron your undies from now on.”
“Relax, Kath. This isn’t us.” Jackson continued to another drawer. Two pairs of jeans.
“Where’s the pair from college?”
“Holes in the knees,” he said. “They must have packed them away.”
The next drawer held Jackson’s three sweaters. The drawer to its right contained two sweatshirts and a pair of shorts.
He opened the final two drawers. Empty. “Plywood and particle board,” Jackson said, pointing. “What a bunch of crap.”
Kathy laughed and sat on the white comforter adorning the king-sized sleigh bed. She picked up one of the five massive pillows and launched it at her husband. “I hate these pillows. I mean…What if someone drooled on them?”
Jackson made a face.
“It’s like we’re in a hotel room. Only…”
“Hotel rooms don’t have your wardrobe. Aren’t you going to look inside your dresser?”
“No.” Kathy shook her head. “It’s too depressing.” She flopped onto her stomach and looked beneath the bed. “Even the dust bunnies are gone.”
“Our bedroom has never been this neat,” Jackson said. “Our house has never been this neat. What’s happened to us, Kathy?”
“We’ve been staged, Jackson.” Together they walked to the basement where they found their bedroom furniture, scratched and dented and bruised. But still. It was theirs. Hard rock maple. Inherited from Kathy’s grandparents. Solid through and through. “See you soon, old friend,” Jackson said, running a finger across a ring on the top of his dresser.
For the prompt exchange this week, Anna at gave me this prompt: My bedroom has never been THIS messy before. I took the opposite route and went with “…this neat.” This piece is in reference to the fairly new idea of staging a house before it goes on the market. It involves removing many personal items, possibly renting more tastefulfurniture, and making all manner of updates. It’s a pain. And I found myself wondering, during the process, where my family went, after the pictures, books, curtains and various pieces of furniture were removed. Obviously, this was exaggerated: No one actually ironed boxer shorts or loaded up the dressers for us.
I gave Steph at this prompt: He wore his successes like three Olympic medals.

12 thoughts on “Center Stage

  1. This was a great way to tackle the prompt. I like that everything was just “so” in each of the drawers and that the dust bunnies were missing when she looked under the bed. I also appreciate the ending that explained how you came to look at things this way, and now I will remember it.

    Nice write!

  2. When we were looking to buy we came across so many “staged” houses. I have mixed feelings about it. It’s so obvious, so sterile, so colorless. But, it does give the buyer an idea of the size of the rooms, things like that. You’ve captured that brilliantly, and with lovely language and a touching scene.

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  4. So I come down here to write a nice comment about your post and I see the comment from “Anonymous” trying to lure you to his premature ejaculation pills website — and not I can’t stop laughing. I must be doing something wrong. I never get great spam like this.

    But seriously, Kelly. The whole tone of this piece was so perfectly pristine and fit so well with the story itself. It really did feel like they’d been transported to an alternative universe. Excellent.

    • Ha! I was just getting to delete that lovely post from anon, but I think I’ll leave it up for now so everyone can have a good laugh. I get that all the time and had comments moderated for that reason. And, yes, my family has definitely been transported to an alternate universe. All will end soon once we move!

  5. Perfect title .. . and I especially like that sense of disorientation created right at the beginning with, ‘Where did we go?” Old comforts — even scratched and dented — are still the best.

  6. What a great story. At first I thought they might be in witness protection and then when I found out they had been staged, I chuckled.

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