House

The further adventures of Plank.

Suddenly I’m back in his good graces, but that’s mostly because he needs a third person to play house. He and Plank have become inseparable. “Let’s go climb trees,” he’ll say, and go rummaging about for a long rope so he can haul his buddy up with him. Other times they go down to the road and watch cars go by. Some of the drivers honk and wave, but I’m not sure he ever waves back.

I’m usually napping when he comes home from school. “Boy!” he’ll shout in my ear. “I thought I told you to mow the goddamn lawn.”

I’m not a boy, actually, I’m a girl, and theoretically he knows this. But any attention is better than none at all.

“Supper’s on,” he’ll call, and sure enough, there’s an old door up on blocks with plates and glasses and everything. Plank is already seated when I shuffle over. It’s wearing an apron, and it appears to have gained several new layers of red crayon around the mouth. I gather it’s not a boy any more. For all its immobility – being just a board and all – Plank actually has quite a bit more flexibility than the average companion.

“What is this?” the boy asks, picking up his empty plate and tilting it back and forth. “My God, it’s still moving!” he says in mock terror, and drops the plate. Then he takes a sip from his glass and starts to choke. “What are you trying to do, poison me?” He swings one arm against Plank’s face, knocking her and the chair backwards onto the floor. “Can’t you do anything right?”

With unsteady hands he raises the glass again to his lips and very slowly takes another sip, then another. I can smell the alcohol. “Ahhh,” he says, pretending to enjoy it, and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Then he starts to cry.

“Why don’t you get up?” he burbles, and tips the chair upright. Plank smiles fixedly. He cries a little more, interrupted by hiccups. “Boy, finish your supper!”

I press my long tongue to the empty plate and give it an exploratory taste. It’s not too bad, really, once you get used to it.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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