By Alice Kinerk
Recently Hubs and I have been dealing with some heavy stuff. We’ve been moving appliances. He bought two-person shoulder dolly moving straps. They look like zip-line harnesses. You dunk your head inside, locate the loose end, and adjust. There is an extreme sports feel to the thing. But it’s just our deep freezer, on vacation in the living room. It’s just our kitchen stove, needing transport of twelve feet.
The reason our appliances were in the living room is because Hubs just finished replacing the vinyl flooring. The vinyl flooring had to be replaced because the previous vinyl was all torn up. The previous vinyl was all torn up because a pipe burst, ruining the subfloor, and the homeowners insurance sent a check, but the guys we hired were clowns (who else but a clown is going to drive all the way out here?) and did a terrible job, leaving a fat vinyl bubble by the sink. Step on the bubble and it went squeak!
Our new vinyl is thicker and made to look like hardwood. It thrills us. Borderline agoraphobes are easily thrilled. We have already been down on our knees admiring its gauge, color, sponginess. We have run our fingernails rat-a-tat against its imitation grain. We have admired its wood-like appearance. We have wondered if our hypothetical friends, on a hypothetical visit, might believe our floor is hardwood. They might, we tell each other. They really might.
Now all that’s left is the fridge. Hubby tilts it and I scoot the midline underneath. Then we strap in and adjust. He’s plastered to one side, I’m plastered to the other. We peek out. We have to start at a crouch. He counts down from three and we stand.
The shoulder dolly helps, but I feel my heart ka-lump. As soon as we reach vinyl he takes off the straps. “We can push it now,” he says. So we do.
But the thing is, the fridge needs to be turned. So we pivot, pushing together on one side, about three-quarters round, so it’s flush with the wall. I slip behind to connect the water line.
While I’m squatting back there Hubs yells “Fuck!”
It’s ripped. Two inches in diameter. From the pivot. Hubs presses down the wrinkled vinyl with his thumb but a crescent of subfloor remains. He curses again. Stands, squats, stands.
I hug him. It feels weird to press horizontally just after pressing vertically so hard. There’s nothing to say. I want to talk about the Japanese idea that perfection exists through imperfection. There’s a term for it, a term I’ve used. I like imperfect perfection. But I can’t think of the word. So we just stand there, hugging, my foot covering the hole in the floor, until everything doesn’t hurt as much.
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Alice earned an MFA in English and then spent several years raising babies and not writing much, but now she’s back to the keyboard. Her short stories have been published in Oyster River Pages, South Dakota Review, Rock Salt Journal, and elsewhere.