The House Guest

“Just plug in and inflate,” said the instructions.

What could be simpler than that, I thought. I had picked out the inflatable mattress with care making sure it was large enough to fit two people. I cleared a section of my tiny living room with much aggravation. It’s true I never liked her, or her shoes, her belts, her jewelry. They always seem to mock me…the way only ones relatives can.

She arrived in my world with all her accessories and him the biggest accessory of them all. At once she sought to reproduce her world, the parties, the people, the purses. I hoped my little mattress would be enough.

I would listen with irritation and awe as she attempted to impart her knowledge to me and pretend I wasn’t hungry – for the bitter sweet taste of her words could just as easily illuminate as they could humiliate. And my tender ego, that was as large as the mattress in my living room, had become worn out and bruised a long time ago. Yet I enjoyed peeking into her world the way one peeks into a ‘Fun House’ mirror and finds reflected back an image that is familiar yet distorted – a parallel universe, a parallel life that has come traipsing through my life, my living room and flopped down on my mattress.

When this dizzy ride finally came to an end I was left with all its repercussions- dirty dishes, laundry, take out containers and the most telling an improved wardrobe. I put my too quiet life back together…slowly letting the air out my mattress, fill the emptiness of my living room.