Lift the seat cushion from the green brocade couch where your family's been lounging, hold them vertically, shake 3 times and replace. Repeat with the back cushions. Smooth the matching throw pillows and place each at a slight angle toward each other. There’s a place for everything. Eyeball the identical end tables and lamps on either side of the sofa. Make sure each lamp is centered. Empty and wipe the etched bronze ashtray and place it at the corner of the table on the left side of the couch close enough for your wife to reach. Center the piano bench beneath the keys. Chaos lurks in disorder. Unravelling can be measured in millimeters. Arrange your children’s’ pictures on the stereo console so that the high school graduation photos of your daughter and son are minutely angled and flanking the portrait of your three year old daughter. Pause for a moment wondering at the incongruity of it. Move on to the television console in front of the window. Slide the felt bottomed marble reproduction of the Pieta you brought back from Italy toward the back left corner. Move it again, a fraction of an inch closer to you. She is disconcerting, this sorrowful virgin. How can she be appeased? Position the statue so that she has full view of the room. Everything in its place. Click the switch of the lamp on the TV twice toward you so that it turns from the highest to lowest setting. A soft glow in the darkness, a guard against the void. Walk soundlessly across the carpet until you reach the familiar squeak of the bottom step of the stairway. Extend your right hand forward and grip the bannister so that you can pull yourself forward. Stop and turn back to the living room. You’ve conquered another night.
- Teresa Giordano writes non-fiction television programs on topics ranging from earwigs to forensic anthropology, to the southwest border, to bad-ass presidents. She’s also crafted dialogue for some of those reality TV stars you think are being spontaneous. She’s published fiction in Devilfish Review, Pyschopomp, and in an echapbook titled Strange Encounters. She’s published non-fiction in The Weeklings.