The woman new to this town is looking at rugs online. More specifically, she is looking at used rugs online. She is looking for worn rugs. Keyword: “Worn” or “Distressed” or “Vintage” or “Antique.” She is looking for “Worn Persian rug” or “Distressed Persian rug” or “Antique Oushak wool rug.” She is looking on eBay, on Etsy, on Craigslist, on Facebook Marketplace, on all the places one looks for used things. When she wakes up in the morning, she takes up her phone and pulls up the site (Facebook or eBay, etc.) and enters in her keyword, and scrolls. When she is eating tikka masala alone at the kitchen island in the apartment she thought one day he too would live in with her on stools too short, she scrolls (Despite her prolonged interest in homemaking, she never knew there was a difference between bar height and counter height—when there is no one there to offer checks and balances, you make such $100 mistakes.). Sometimes, she messages a seller, Hi. How much? or Good Afternoon. Is this still available? always with a salutation, because it is not nice to not offer some humanity to someone else offering you something, whether it be a rug or a table or love. It is always important to say hello, to say goodbye.
Blood, one seller says, describing the damage, on the fringe, but nothing too obscene for the right buyer. Blood, she has learned, is not even the only thing you can count on—an argument with her father upon moving her into this space culminating with his leaving, goodbye-less, I feel bad for you, a statement not of affection but pity, the subject of abjection a woman towered on the third floor, a better vantage point from which to reflect upon her own mistakes.
Blood, she realizes, is not all that much.
So, blood or not, she messages. The seller’s profile photo gleams a wide smile and soft eyes and an item she did not yet know she wanted—a chocolate-covered child, a child donning an ice cream suit for summer, a child with the same soft sweet eyes, an heirloom passed down from father to child that would age and show wear from years of hard loving too, given time.
She returns to the marketplace. She scrolls, searching for another’s loved things. She waits for a response.
Lee Matalone’s debut novel Home Making is forthcoming from Harper Perennial February 2020.