Congratulations to New Voices author, and extreme talent Zachary Amendt, for crafting this wonderful tale about love and artifact. In “Stay” Amendt examines the lives of Marti and Aldo as their marriage revolves around a basement filled with Marti’s father’s valuable baseball collectables. It is a relationship tested and failed, and yet, it takes an extreme scenario before the marriage and the collection are truly pitted one against the other. Enjoy!
by Zachary Amendt
As soon as Aldo came home, he checked the hygrometer.
“It’s humid downstairs,” he said.
“I know. It beeped,” Marti said.
“It’ll mold. You don’t want that.”
Marti didn’t want any of it. Sometimes she thought Aldo had married her for her inheritance of framed jerseys, pennants, signed baseballs that she wasn’t allowed to touch. It had been her father’s. It was hers. It was Al’s.
She thought it all should be in a museum. There was Honus Wagner’s (she pronounced it Vagner) mitt and Christy Mathewson’s rosin bag, the home base Jackie Robinson stole and a replica of the actual house Ruth had built. There were Roberto Clemente’s cleats and pieces of Ebbets Field. There was the microphone Lou Gehrig used to announce his retirement.
Marti didn’t know who these people were. Most of them were dead.
“It can’t mold,” she said. “It’s behind glass.”
“Did you check for vapor?”
“I had a million things to do,” she said, trying to remember exactly what. Most days she had to make a list to convince herself she had been productive. Cleaned disposal, she wrote. Changed bulb.
Her forties had been tidy, tamely exciting. Trips to Cabo, to Palm Springs, the poor man’s Cancun. She wasn’t like her friends who lived off campus near Cal, dissipated, obsessed with PBS, Birkenstocks. She found it unbearable going to their cluttered houses, vibrant with children. She envied their problems: concurrences of disaster, divorces and affairs, bouts of chicken pox.
She was changing her allegiance from Gov. Clinton to Jerry Brown when Aldo had started to talk retirement. At first it was something he ventured over dinner with his fork in the air, a distant thing, a marathon in Antarctica. It scared her when he brought it up. She wasn’t sure what he was like during the day.
It was Wednesday. Marti poured Aldo a drink, his first of four. He puckered.
“You’ve been over-bittering my Gibsons,” he said.
“It’s arsenic,” she said.
Read more, here.