He needed to be doing something industrious with his hands; to not feel useless. It was the act, the accomplishment, the focused routine of the task at hand. There was no superfluous thought. Mind dictated hand, which in turn dictated action. There was order here. He could control what was happening, how rare a feeling that is in a world of inconstancies. He felt his life slipping into the maddening crowd—Throw in the lifesaver! He’s drowning!—and all he could do was disassemble this broken futon.
She watched him with a cat-like sort of detachment. She noted his knitted brow while he worked. She could feel he didn’t want to talk, could feel he’d put up a wall she was not meant to surmount. So she sat like a lump, useless, and watched him with idle hands. She wondered how you tell someone you’ve been irrevocably damaged; how terrified she was of opening herself up for fear of bleeding out in betrayal—in love we are all casualties. She hated that it was a constant battle of power to see who could put up the best defenses and here he was taking apart this futon like it was the most simple thing in the world.
When he was finished he didn’t feel better. He wished that he had something more to do with his hands. He looked at them, the creases and flows of them, calloused and scarred with living. He did not feel like they were his own. If they were his own he would know what to do with them. He would know how to mend everything. But here they were, two separate entities, doing what they will with his signature.
In the morning she went out on the patio and stood in the fragments; bolts and nuts haphazardly scattered like so many hopes without something to anchor—there is no glue holding this together. She sat amidst the ruins and wept between pale fingers.