Cushions By Daniel Guy Baldwin

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So I have this girlfriend. Our relationship has all those fantastic amazing things a relationship is meant to have. We have a great time together, we’re in love, and the sex is great. All in all, pretty amazing stuff. But, goddamn, is she annoying.

Take this morning for instance. This song comes on the radio whilst we’re eating breakfast. Toast for her, cereal for me. She always has toast. Like every day. Plain toast. Never once does she vary it up.

I’m always like: Why don’t you live a little? Variety is the spice of life, and all that.

Then she’s always like: I just like toast.

And then I’m like: Okay, yeah, cool.

But really, in my head, I’m like: How did I get shackled with her?

Sure I have frosted flakes every day, but they’re some of the best things I’ve ever tasted so it would make sense to have them on the regular.

Anyway, this song comes on the radio, and it’s playing and it’s like yeah, whatever, fine. It’s your stereotypical radio sounding affair. And the guy is singing about like lost loves, and tragic romances, and how no one got him anyway.

Then, out of nowhere, she chimes in with something like: I really feel this song. Kind of like in my soul; almost like it was written about me.

Being the total fucking narcissist that she is, she can’t detach from it enough to see that it’s basically about me. No one gets me. I have so many great ideas, really massive ideas, and thoughts, and concepts that no one really understands.

I’ll explain them to people but they’re always like: Yeah that’s cool, anyway have you heard what happened with Kim and Michael?

Why is it always about Kim and Michael nowadays? Sure they’re having a hard time, but who isn’t? I could be having the toughest of times and no one would care. Maybe I should have two kids and get in a car crash with a drunk driver that tragically lands both children in a coma and then have to make the difficult but ultimately benevolent decision to switch off their life support machines after the doctors state there’s zero chance of recovery.

Maybe then someone would listen to me.

Of course I don’t say any of that because she’d make a whole thing out of it. Which would ruin not only breakfast, but probably the whole day.

What I do say is something like: Yeah, totally.

And we continue eating breakfast.

Here’s another thing she does that annoys me. She’s heading out to work, and I’m just there doing my thing. Maybe I’m playing the guitar, or maybe I’m writing my memoir, or maybe I’m calling the local radio station to tell the DJ why he’s wrong about the current state of politics in the city. Whatever it is, I’m just minding my own business.

Then she’s all like: I’m just heading to work, I love you so much. See you later babe.

So I’m like: Love you too. Check you later.

God I hate that, yet she does it all the time. Weaponises her affections. I love you so much.

So much.

Yeah I get it. No one has, or will ever, love me as much as you do. She only does this to make that fact clear; like it wasn’t already painfully obvious. Then I have to be the good guy, and settle for her. Settle for this plain-toast-every-day kind of girl just because no one else is capable of loving me as much as she does. I get it. I’m unlovable, and she’s a hero for loving someone like me. She deserves a medal for how much she loves me. And she tells everyone as if trying to gain their sympathies.

Oh I love him so much she’ll say to Michael.

I love him more than anything she’ll say to Kim.

Of course that was before The Accident. That’s how they’re all referring to it now. The Accident. As if refraining from saying what actually happened will somehow make it less real. Now, needless to say, I don’t even get a brief mention in conversation. Oh yeah, she really must love me. I bet she loves me so much. So much that she doesn’t even talk to our closest friends about me any more.

Maybe it’s all a big charade and everyone I know is going to jump out and be like: Ha got you! We all hate you really because you’re an asshole who forgot Jonah’s birthday that one time even though none of us bothered to remind you.

Yeah I bet they’re all having a big old laugh about me behind my back. Some friends they are. And it’s her fault.

So what I do is I go to my bathroom and into my shower and squeeze a bunch of her expensive shampoo down my drain. Whoops.

I need to make it clear that it’s my bathroom and shower and drain because a lot of the time she forgets that it is my apartment, and mistakenly calls it our apartment. I mean sure she pays the majority of the rent and utilities and things like that, but it’s my name on the lease. I’m the one who has to take responsibility if things go wrong.

I would anyway.

Except I don’t know how to fix a burst pipe, or a faulty valve, or whatever. That’s not my fault though. Dad never taught me any of that stuff, so that’s on him.

Plus it’d make a mess, and I can’t exactly tidy up because I don’t know where she keeps the vacuum. Even if I did know where the vacuum was I wouldn’t know the correct settings to use because she hasn’t told me them. So that’s on her for buying a fancy new vacuum cleaner with infinite settings that are as equally unintuitive as they are pointless.

And that’s another thing. She keeps buying things for our apartment. Cushions and throws and appliances that I don’t know why she needs much less understand.

Like god, I can’t sit on the sofa for cushions. I go to relax after a hard day of being me, but instead I end up trapped in this velvety hell. There’s velvet literally everywhere, and I fucking hate velvet. She probably buys them to spite me.

But of course she’s all smiling and like: Do you like the new cushions I got?

So I’m like: I love them. They’re great.

But I know. I know they’re hate cushions brought in to punish me. Maybe she’s planning to tie me up with the throws then smother me with the pillows, or suck all of the air out of my lungs with the vacuum. That’s probably what one of the settings is for.

I keep this to myself of course, because then, in a way, I have all the power.

Obviously, this pattern continues for a while. The toast, and the so much, and the our apartment. Infuriating. Then weeks later it’s the funeral for Kim and Michael’s kids. Of course that was a whole thing. Yeah we get it. It’s sad.

But who knew joint funerals were a thing? I didn’t. Probably saves on costs. They mustn’t have loved those kids that much if they weren’t even willing to have two funerals. If I had two kids die at the same time I would at least have two funerals. Maybe even three. Two separate ones, and then a joint one; just to cover all my bases. That way even if someone “ruins” one of them. There’s still two more.

I would hardly call the funeral “ruined” though. I mean it’s a funeral. Not exactly barrels of fun to begin with.

But, no, everyone is all judgemental and like: I can’t believe you just said that!

Let’s be realistic here. There’s probably no heaven, and, even if there was, those two kids are as sure as hell (HA!) not getting there. Kim and Michael weren’t practising anythings at the time of The Accident. Just because they suddenly became full on zealots after the fact doesn’t change a thing. You have to be practising the religion at the time of death right? And those kids weren’t. So you tell me who’s in the wrong here.

If anyone “ruined” the funeral it was them not committing to a religion sooner.

Of course I tell this to her, but she’s all like: There’s a time and a place. Why do you have to be such an asshole?

Yeah sure, I’m the asshole. Just because the truth hurts.

But this time I do something different. This time I actually say it, and it feels sort of liberating. Finally, things might be about to change. She’ll say I’m right about everything, get rid of the cushions and most likely throw me a party. There’ll be a new period of pillow-less peace and harmony where everyone agrees with me and doesn’t get annoyed when I forget a birthday or “ruin” a funeral.

So I’m standing there eagerly awaiting her apologies, and my deserved reparations, but instead she’s acting all exasperated like: Jesus Christ! What is wrong with you?

So I’m like: Woah! Don’t let Kim and Michael hear you use the lord’s name like that!

Then she lets out this sigh and just sort of presses her face into her hands. Yeah we get it. No need to overdo it.

So I sigh back in a this-is-how-you-sound-do-you-hear-how-ridiculous-you-sound sort of way.

Then she starts to like scream and shout and bawl at me. So I return fire because hey I’ve done nothing wrong here. And it all comes out. All the toast and the cushions and the so much.

Then she has the nerve to be like: I thought you liked the cushions!

Completely ignoring the other issues, which is just so typical of her. So I walk to the couch and pick up one of the velvet hate-sacks, her favourite one, and I just toss it into the trash.

In retaliation she takes my cereal, and launches it across the room. Frosted goodness everywhere. Then she just leaves, knocking over my guitar as she goes.

And it’s up to me to clean up the mess. As per usual. Except I can’t because of the previously mentioned issues with the vacuum.

A few days later she’s back and wants to talk.

I’m like: What is there to talk about?

And she’s like: I have nowhere to live.

So I’m like: Fine.

And we live like that for a while. Sharing an apartment but not really living together. Not really speaking. Not really doing much of anything.

And I find myself remembering how I fell in love with her. Without the daily toast and the so much and all the ours. All of which somehow seems so trivial now. The minimal interactions we do have are like eating after a famine. Drinking after a drought. Binging after a detox.

So late one afternoon I go to talk to her, but she isn’t there. In her place is this note.

And the note is all like: I’m going to stay with my sister, so you don’t need to worry about me eating toast every day. I’ve taken all of my stuff, so you don’t need to worry about the overly-complex nature of the vacuum. And we’re not going to speak again, so you don’t need to worry about any issues surrounding me saying ours or so much either.

Then it goes on to say a bunch of other stuff about how I should see a therapist.

I don’t really get it, so I message Kim to gain some insight.

No response.

So I try Michael to see why Kim isn’t replying.

Nothing there either.

So I sit on the couch and stare at nothing in particular. And it’s hard and cold and uncomfortable.

Needs cushions.

glasses

Daniel Guy Baldwin

Daniel Guy Baldwin is a writer currently living in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, a Philosophy graduate from Keele University, and trying his best to write meaningful stories with varying degrees of success.

Twitter: @danguybaldwin

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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