Julia's husband decided to see if he could live without worldly
possessions. He claimed they were ruining his sense of self, which was
pretty standard — the whole thing seemed pretty standard, to
Julia's friends — but instead of forcing the family out of
their home or hopping a train by himself to the country, instead of
making a vacation out of it, Henry decided to operate his experiment by
giving up only one possession at a time. As in, on a Sunday he would
move the television into the garage, and at the end of the week, he
would move it back into the living room and watch the evening news.
He said that giving possessions up one at a time was the scientific way
to do it, which made sense to Julia because she had bought him a
subscription to Nature
the previous Christmas and he had been fascinated since then by the
scientific method. Julia's friends suggested that she give him time,
then they suggested that she draw the line at possessions which
affected her life personally — the blender, for example,
which she used every morning to make her protein shakes. Her friends
made no suggestions at all for one week, when Henry packed their cell
phones into the garage. When he brought them out, her voicemail was full
of messages saying, This
has to stop.
That night, Julia watched Henry dismantle the ceiling fan. "This has to
stop," she said.
"You only worry about the big things," he said. "You didn't notice the
week I went without socks."
"I do your laundry. I notice everything."
"Speaking of, I have the dryer on schedule for next week."
The base of the ceiling fan came down in one piece, and he wrapped the
globes carefully with newspaper before unscrewing the blades. He lay
them in a neat stack and arranged them all in a box.
"The girls are talking about you again," Julia said.
"Those girls need to learn a thing or two about compromise," Henry
He took the ceiling fan away. Julia looked at the bare wires dangling
from the ceiling and wondered how a scientist might see them.
Amelia Gray lives and works in Austin, Texas. Her fiction is published
or forthcoming in McSweeney's
Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, and others.
She was a recent finalist in the DIAGRAM Innovative Fiction Contest and
the Rose Metal Press Chapbook Contest.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200810exper.htm
Photo detail on main page courtesy
of Joshua Davis.
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