Bob and Cat

Subtitle: A story in which all dialog is the word, “no.”

Bob and Cat are a couple. They have just moved to a new apartment, and they are having an argument about where to place items of furniture in their living room. Rather, Bob is offering suggestions that Cat immediately shoots down, and Bob is starting to get tired of it. It’s his apartment, too, damn it. He has to come home to it everyday, and maybe he wants the brown leather armchair near the window.

“No,” Cat says when he suggests this.

It is a firm no, and after bickering for a bit, the armchair winds up across the room in front of the fireplace. Bob isn’t really sure how he lost.

Should the couch go against the far wall?

“No,” Cat says, as if Bob is posing this question just to annoy her.

The couch is placed directly in front of the television, in the middle of the room.

Bob wants the end table to go next to the couch.

“No,” Cat says.

The end table goes next to the armchair.

Bob carries the papasan over to a spot facing the armchair.

“No!” Cat says.

The papasan goes out to the curb.

Bob suggests standing the floor lamp next to the armchair so he can read.

“No!” They say together, Bob mirroring the way Cat punctuates her cry by sticking his arms out, palms up.

Cat is embarrassed and irritated by the way Bob mocks her. She leaves the living room, storms down the hallway into the bedroom, and angrily throws herself face down on the bed with an exasperated sigh. She curls up facing the wall away from the door.

At first, Bob is pleased with his victory, and he celebrates with a cheese sandwich and a beer, enjoying each in his armchair – he no longer minds that it is in front of the fireplace. However, soon after the food is gone, Bob starts to feel lonely sitting in the big, echoing living room by himself. After a while, he goes to stand in the doorway. He watches Cat lay motionless for a bit. Then he goes to sit near her on the bed. Her back is to him. He wants to touch her. He starts rubbing her shoulder, and his hand makes its way down her back, slowly, tickling her spine.

“No,” she growls, shrugging his hand away.

Bob sighs and retreats to the bathroom to shower and jostle his elder.