Rachel Hughes

Requiem for a Folded-In Girl

I collapse. Inward, like a table. I habitually make myself small. Shorten my long legs and tuck them inside. Smaller. Release my safety lock and fold in half so only my hardest shell faces outward. Hide my holes so they don’t have to be dealt with.

And I let Them do this to me, too. I let them kick in my hinges and fold my legs; click my halves together so I can only be opened if pried apart. I clench together so I stay folded up. So I, with my convenient handle, can be easily carried to the garage and slid painlessly between shelf and wall. Hidden so I can be forgotten. I am best friends with the dark.

When they want me, they will find me. And wrench me into being again. Crank out my legs, stand me up, and cover the stains they made with a flowered tablecloth. They’ll laden me with the dishes they don’t want to carry; potato salads and diet sodas, unbothered by how the weight bends my frame.

I’ll stand here in the corner holding their fly-picked leftovers and melting ice cream until I’m folded up to wait in the damp garage. I am invisible amid my usefulness and unconsidered when I’m not there.

And isn’t that best? To be so wonderfully convenient that I don’t exist at all? To be flung perpetually between wall and corner, corner and wall, wall and corner, corner and-

AHHHH! No! I am inconvenient! Heavy and unwieldy. I won’t let them shorten my monstrous legs again. I’ll wedge those metal rings around my hinges so they can’t kick them in. I’ll slam against their round ankle bones when they try to carry me away. I don’t belong in the slice of air between shelf and wall, Goddammit. Inside myself is too cramped a space for me; I am not a table! I overflow with being. I am a whole person. I exist fully. I rise and, in rising, expand and, in expanding, unfold.

Rachel Hughes is a career-hopping, introverted, anxious nerd who writes. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, though mostly prefers to find herself in New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas, or generally anywhere else.