What he wasn't looking for.

          On the day he moved out of their house, he toured apartments in the city. One in particular caught his attention, a one-bedroom in Chinatown that had been abandoned by a previous tenant. He liked the location, the distance; ignoring the commute, the miles and hours he would traverse out of obligation, work or otherwise. He liked the scenery, the urban sprawl so different from townhomes he had settled around; the smell of cherry in the halls, the cluster of bodies that would no doubt gather at night, music, laughter, alcohol rendering all memory wrought. And the price; he could afford golf again, aged scotch, child support.

          But what to do with all of this shit? he thought, looking over curtains, sewn and patched from what must have been bed sheets; a dining room composed of a pressboard table, three chairs, and a stool; a shelf of yellowed paperbacks and mildew, a silverfish creeping across a spine.

          He scanned the titles, computing the cost of such a hobby; not just in economics— although such a computation was paramount—but in time, that most precious of commodities. Time taken between stacks. Time between stores, and book sales, and garage sales, digging past stuffed elephants with stained trunks, mismatched tennis shoes, picture frames with the factory family still retained. Time to organize or not, read or not; to repeat the steps each time another box walked through the door, impassioned with the bleached memory of the night classes attended, allowances spent on liberal arts. Time better spent appreciating the aesthetics of space, to value it because it meant you could afford the absence. Forget the titles you plan to read, you hope to read, you want to read; an uncalculated future of wasted time.

          He picked out a thin volume, one he recognized but had never read. On the first page, there was an inscription, inefficient penmanship he did not care to make out, regardless of what it might reveal. What’s the point? he said, not bothering to ration the time to consider such a life.

          And then she left him without a word.

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