Amelia Gray

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 said.

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 Internet Tendency, Caketrain, Guernica, Bound Off, 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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