A Cluttered Life

Written by Olivia Goldson 

 Photograph by   John Sekutowski

Photograph by John Sekutowski

There is a chair; I’m sitting on it. It’s one of those office-like swivel seats. I’m at the desk. It’s IKEA, but then again everything in this room is IKEA. The printer to my right works although I know that a green vase of sunflowers isn’t supposed to live on top of it. I don’t have anywhere else to put them. They’re the only sunshine I get. I can see the stapler and the hole-punch. The three together look like a still life waiting to be drawn.

The wall I’m staring at between sentences is blank, apart from the little circles of missing paint. The wall to my right is busy and colourful, my assignment list reminding me of the work I should be doing. A few photos line the edge of the desk, the people in them all have smiling faces: more reminders. A pile of paperwork lies to the left of me, I’m finding it hard to type with it sat there, but there is no room for it to go anywhere else.

The kitchen trolley is full, and out of place, it’s from IKEA too. My treasured possessions and my book, the one with the felt spots on it fill the trays. My life literally, crammed into three shelves.

The wall beneath the window makes for a makeshift bookcase; unread National Geographic and the Wanderlust magazines wilt in the damp. Some still in their plastic postal covers. A few books on how to write non-fiction are there too. They’re useless to me now.

That mood light that we haven’t used has managed to find a shelf on top of the unread magazines, the Argos catalogue providing a sturdy base. The extension cable I can see out the corner of my eye, the one I hate, becomes my primary focus. Between that and the missing paint, it isn’t any wonder I’m getting nothing down on paper. 
My bed is unmade - unsurprising really. It’s the only clear space I have.

There’s condensation on the old window frame, but it’s not raining.

Our cupboard is full, not with my clothes but with his. I loved him. He’ll be home soon, and this room with get even smaller. He fills the space with what I thought I wanted.

I hear the door shut, he’s home. Those are his footsteps on the stairs. Unmistakable. He’s talking to me; I should stop typing.

I’m surrounded by clutter. I can’t stand it. Letters from the bank and the taxman are strewn across the floor with the underwear he was wearing last night.

I hear people talking outside my window. They may as well be inside. Their conversations are clear; they’re almost refreshing.

I can see through the window of the church across the road. This country is claustrophobic. I’m living in someone’s pocket while someone else takes up residence in mine.

Between the clutter, him and the people talking there’s no peace. He’s piling more paperwork onto my desk; more letters from the taxman.

The two Gin and Tonic glasses from the beginning of last week are still on the floor. I bet the lemon is mouldy.

He has put candles on the mantelpiece. This room is already too small and cluttered for ambience. More flowers are taking up the last little corner of space. Dead now. They were beautiful, once, like this room.