Issue Twenty-Nine - Winter 2017

These Are the Things We Know

By Shaun Turner

Ever since we started the build, we came to know the copper-smelling mud that mounded the edges of the construction site. Khaki-brown and tar sticky, we knew how to get on our knees to scrub it clean.

We knew that six pallets of smooth gray slate weighed just over 24,000 pounds. We knew how to calculate sales tax and shipping. We knew that, after spending six hours on the roof, twelve men, two women, and a boy can eat thirty ham-and-cheese sandwiches for lunch and drink up four gallons of lemonade.

On the way back to our half-boxed, cramped apartment from hell, to the building site, to the bank, we stopped at a Subway/Shell station. I pumped gas and then we went in to order lunch from the Subway.

The silent teenager inside wore a tag that said “Sandwich Artist.” He pointed at a sign with several types of bread, familiar like an old lullaby: Honey Oat, Italian Herbs & Cheese, 9-Grain Wheat. The sandwich line overflowed with toppings—the floor stuck against his shoe.

In the last week alone, we learned how to speak soft to the woman at the bank which held our mortgage. Her name was Lalaine, which sounded like the name of a character in a soap opera. We learned how to recognize the difference between a walk-through and an evaluation, between good news and bad news—how it’s all in the tone of voice.

In the sandwich line, the menu board seemed to hold some clue as to what the next week held. Everything done, except the money. Just finished the master bathroom, and the moldings, and the closet. So damn close. We had picked out this storage system from some catalog and were supposed to hang it.

Living with construction was like living in a war zone. All our stuff was spread between the apartment and the new house, storage units and parents’ spare rooms. We had began communicating by slamming doors.

“Would you like any sauces?” the sandwich artist said. We didn’t know. We looked at the menu board like it was the most important decision we had to make.

Copyright Turner 2016