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by Jennifer Falkner

The tablecloth was a thrift store find, she paid less than a dollar for it, and now that they had no table, it had really only one purpose. She pinched two corners and snapped it in the air before laying it out on the floor. A riot of purple and orange and brown paisley against the beige wall-to-wall carpeting of the dining room. He was in the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards, clanking pots and pans, bringing out every item to her. She placed them on the tablecloth methodically. Three plates, three spoons, forks, knives, two mugs, the French press, crockpot, rice maker, saucepan, frying pan, smaller frying pan. One spatula, one wooden spoon, one peeler.

This was their routine. Their ritual. Every six months (or more frequently if one of them was out of work) they re-evaluated their possessions. They called it curation. They quoted William Morris. They cited Thoreau. Each time they discovered something else they didn’t use, something they told themselves they didn’t need.

They hardly ever make rice, she said. He nodded.

But when they did, he said, rice is cheap and filling. She agreed.

The crockpot, then?

He pulled out his phone and took a picture of the crockpot for the Craigslist ad.

I feel lighter, she said. Less burdened.

I feel freer, he agreed. We have nothing in our lives that is not beautiful or useful. He had pinned that quote many times on Pinterest.

She looked at their bare walls, their thrift store clothes. She reflected that they had very little in the house that was beautiful at all. Maybe that was the next thing to renounce.

I used to have six different dresses. Can you believe it? I can only wear one at a time.

I used to have over five hundred books. He shook his head at his own folly. Five hundred. And the library will let me borrow thousands whenever I want.

He started to put the kitchen things away.

We should leave the plates out. Mom’s coming with pizza. We can tell her the good news.

Jennifer Falkner’s short stories have appeared in The Steel Chisel, Firewords Quarterly and LitroNY, among other places. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.