Jill and Jack were in love. They were attempting to assemble the futon. Together they took all the parts and pieces out of the flatpack box and spread them on the floor in the middle of the room. It resembled a cattle carcass on a high desert plain. There were its ribs and there the tibias. And to the side they set its skin of foam and in a neat pile, its joints of fasteners, screws, nuts and bolts.
Jill starts to examine the manual but she has trouble telling what from what. Jack laughs. He rearranges some of the pine struts around to better match the layout in the diagrammed instructions. Removing his tee-shirt, with the little allen key, he proceeds to work on the futon. He asks Jill for a nut, no the other nut, and Jill sifts through the little pile by where she is sitting on her little green plastic stool and hands Jack a nut.
But soon the smiles grow farther apart and Jack is wet with sweat. He gets up and sweeps the pile of fasteners to the middle of the room and starts cussing with greater frequency.
Eventually Jill gets up and walks to the living room, sits on the couch and turns on the TV. It's the news. Two women and a six-year-old boy have been shot, one of the women, fatally, at a house party in East New York. California is entering its fourth year of a record-breaking drought. Alvin expected to hit Florida tonight. After the break, prepare your body for the beach, our experts show how.
Jack walks into the living room and sits down. We're missing a set of fasteners, he says. I've got to drive back to the store. It's ok honey, you stay, I'll go.
Jack looks at the smashed taillight of his car. He looks at the creased Target receipt in his hand. On the back it reads Rachel in a shaky, child-like scrawl and a phone number underlined twice over.
Rachel says she's so sorry but she has to get to work and she will pay whatever the damages and she's so sorry again and please call and she'll take care of everything but she can't be late for work or she'll be in deep. Then she says she'll love him for as long as she shall live and yes, she does, and she kisses him and at dinner, she tells a hall full of smiling, teary eyes that if that stupid Taylor Swift song that she hated so much hadn't come on, and she hadn't reached for that dial and rear-ended the Subaru, God! who knows how their story would have ended.