The Forbidden Zone

Drywall Forever

Melissa asked Marcus what he was doing.

“I’m writing about drywall tonight!” He yelled it.

“Why?”

“I don’t miss drywall!” Melissa and Marcus’ apartment was only 600 square feet, and they were in the same room. Melissa and Marcus were not dating, nor had they ever, nor were there any feelings between the two. It was utterly a coincidence that she was a girl and that they were roommates.

Marcus was furiously scribbling on a sheet of graph paper. Melissa watched and leaned on the pantry door of the kitchenette.

“So what about drywall?”

“I don’t know,” said Marcus. “I’m just making shit up about it.”

“Is this a story…?”

“I’m intending it to be a 2,000-page novel about drywall. Two volumes.”

“Who would be interested in that?” she said.

“I would. I’m predicating that on the assumption that I’m not unique.”

“The main character is the drywall,” he added.

Melissa walked up behind Marcus and looked at the graph paper. She couldn’t make out any of the writing. “Tell me some facts about it,” she said.

Marcus turned around to her. “Did you know drywall was invented in the early 19th century because it was a softer surface for husbands to throw their wives into?”

“Really?”

“I don’t know. I made it up.”

Melissa returned to the kitchenette and started making breakfast.

“Drywall will never leave you!” he yelled.

“Until you throw your wife through it,” she replied.

“It can be fixed. What is drywall made of?” He tapped his pen to his lip. “Liquid calcite mixed with glue-based adhesives.”

“What are you drinking?” Melissa asked.

“Peppermint schnapps mixed with orange juice.”

“You’re kidding.”

“It was too sweet, so I added some milk.”

“Jesus.”

“Chapter 3 is entitled, ‘The Heralds of Plaster.’”

“I can’t wait to find it on Goodreads.”

“Chapter 4 is about Zooey Deschanel.”

Melissa raised a brow. “Is that so?”

“It’s about how people simplify things. We turned her into a concept with which we can dismiss an entire demographic of heartbreak. If we have concepts we don’t have to think about individual people. I don’t believe in concepts.”

“That’s not about drywall.”

“I guess there’s no drywall in that chapter.” Marcus scribbled a note into the margins.

Melissa leaned over toward Marcus. “Did you know drywall is hyper flammable, and conspiracy has it it was made by the government to prevent class movement during the Industrial Revolution?”

Marcus scribbled in the margins.

“Do you really love drywall?” she asked.

“Passionately.”

“Why did she leave you?”

“I don’t know. One day I’ll get a text from her that says, ‘I miss you. Can I see you.’ It might not ever happen, but it keeps me alive at least, the idea of it.”

“Well, be careful. Drywall is hyper flammable.”

“It can be fixed.”

Melissa came over with a plate of eggs and sat down next to Marcus. She began to eat.

“How does the novel end?”

“In a very long dialogue, between the drywall and a very genteel strip of stone veneer.”

“Veneer.”

“Gilded.”

“Saying what?” she said.

“He says, ‘Please miss me.’ She says, ‘I will.’ He says, ‘That’s all I ask.’ But they’re stuck in the same place.”

“So it’s a novel,” she says.

“It’s a good fiction.”

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