photo of three screws

Assembly Instructions by Elizabeth Wing

In seventh grade I built my crush’s bed. She was moving. Her old bed had gotten stuck on the stairs coming down from the apartment complex. The landlord came out in his pajamas, sputtering angrily, but her mom shrugged and said they could buy a new bed. Her mother was being consciously nice that week, speaking softly and bringing us Indian takeout. The new bed came in a glossy white box from IKEA. On the way up the stairs the box came open and screws flew out. Some were lost under the sofa forever. We assembled it in her new room. I loved assembling things from box instructions – all you had to do was follow the little diagrams and it’d all fit together. It was a quiet, long afternoon, with the late light splayed over the blank walls, her hair brushing my thigh as she leaned over to tighten a screw, a paper plate of tikka masala on the floor.

Over the course of the next three years our friendship got stretched thin, but I still saw her on Facebook. I liked her “in a relationship” post, even though the guy looked like the type who drinks too much Red Bull and watches hentai. I wondered feverishly if she had lost her virginity in the bed that I built. We had left so many screws out – could the upper bunk hold two people? Sometimes I hoped it’d broken, sending them flailing to the floor. But I knew how tightly I’d bolted those joints. I’d done it for her. Of course it held.

Elizabeth Wing is a high school senior in California. Her writing has appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine, Euphony, Jet Fuel Review, and elsewhere. Her work is influenced by Haruki Murakami’s novels, Franchesca Woodman’s photography, and the suburbia angst.

Lead image“Screws” (via Flickr user Jonathan Stonehouse)