From “3 by Ivan Davenny

by Ivan Davenny

When the couple first entered the apartment it was empty and smelled of dandruff. It was not much different from any number of apartments in which they had stood over the last few days. An ornate mantle over the fireplace. A bathroom painted an unfortunate shade of yellow. It may as well have been a series of blank rectangles leaning against one another. The rent though was cheaper than they knew it should be. The only reason they could see for this was that the windows on that side of the building looked out over a cemetery. But through the line of trees they could hardly even see the white huddled headstones.

They moved in a week later. 

They were young, though not as young as they used to be, and enough in love to try being in love. They painted the bathroom. They undressed together. They made elaborate soups. Sometimes one of them read aloud to the other. Other times, neither had much to say. They filled space. In short, the couple lived, no more no less. 

Still, they worried. They knew they would inevitably leave this place. They thought, how can we call a place home when it is so temporary? How many times will we have to remove ourselves, pack up and move to another apartment with different smells and different views outside? They thought of the way birds leave and new ones gather. They found that the love was easy, almost accidental, but hope eluded them. 

They decided to have a party. They invited their friends, some of whom they had not seen since they moved into their last apartment. They wanted for people to meet their new walls, sample their new plumbing, laugh with their new light fixtures. 

Their friends arrived. There were cheeses laid out on planks of wood, vats of colorful dips. The guests were enthusiastic about the new place. Some even expressed a good-natured jealousy to the couple. No one could find a single fault. 

The couple was satisfied. As the night progressed, they leaned against the walls for support and they found the plaster warm from the heat of all their friends’ bodies. They tried to remember the apartment when it was empty but couldn’t. Someone opened the windows to let in the cool air. Outside, they could see nothing, just the trees moving in the wind. 

This was years ago. The apartment building is still there, but the cemetery has been relocated to somewhere else. So has the couple. 

Ivan Davenny was born in Honolulu, HI, but has moved so many times that he just says he’s from “all over.” He is currently a graduate student in the MFA program at Virginia Tech, but this is his first literary publication.

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