She moved from wall to wall while the wallpaper watched.
It was an old wallpaper, its fabric heavy, yellow, and at places peeled and curling. Its vines were cracks, yawning toward the window. The window was open, its mouth clicking the steady beat of distant traffic, the slow hum of shoes on pavement, and the occasional scratch of a child's crayon against the sidewalk. The window was very happy about its sounds over the year, letting them filter into the wallpaper.
"This is the fourth hour." The wallpaper said.
"Oh just leave her be." Returned the window.
The woman of the room had swept then toiled. Her things scattered upon the floor. She moved lightly at first this evening, the sun still faintly present for the window to share. Then later, with the quiet, angry lamp on, she continued to organize. And sometimes it was a good thing, the window and the wallpaper knew, to move a room around, to allow old things to meet new things. But cleaning for this long felt a bit odd. So the window let in the city noise and the wallpaper deepened its brows, and they keot on their argument for a time.
And that is when the cat came in.
"Meow" the cat said, entering through the door. Its eyes lingered upon the girl, then drew itself upon the bed, the bed loaded with objects, screws and yarn, papers, journals and the contents of shelves, but the cat did not care, such as their nature, and it turned its attention toward the wallpaper, and the wallpaper's attention was ever on the cat and its delinquent scratchy ways, as the cat then said to it "Oh! You have a new bruise I see."
"Every bruise is a story" the wallpaper returned gruffly. And indeed it was, in the wallpaper's opinion. And wallpapers could be very mighty in their opinions, unchangingly so. And this wallpaper was exceedingly so with age.
This new bruise, the cat had observed, was pitch-black at its center, the impact of a wooden corner as it shuffled in the woman's hands, then landed, CRACK, splintering the pattern of green and yellow vines. It was in the first hour, when the woman had been at her highest of energies. She had noted the crack with remorse, thinking it a sin--oh, if only humans could understand a wallpaper's feelings, they would not see these cracks as a form of harm--but she had then more slowly moved her things about. The crack had formed a bubble though, the 'bruise'. But it was only the air that had gotten under it.
The wallpaper was perfectly fine with these things. A wallpaper could be fine, and in fact proud, of a great many things. But one thing it could not stand, of course, was a cat's criticism. And now the cat had rolled its eyes.
"And what is it to you?"
"Oh nothing" the cat faked a stretch, as a cat might often do.
"It looks ugly." The cat purred.
The wallpaper was furious at that. Ugly! At a bruise! A crack! A contact of wood! How dare that moving creature! That insufferable cat!
"It looks nothing of the sort!" said the wallpaper
And then the window repeated "nothing of the sort," trying its best to stay in the conversation.
"I suppose," the cat rolled, "these things happen though."
"Well it is your owner," the wallpaper gruffed
"Owner," the cat almost spat the words out. "As if cats are owned."
The argument continued for a time. The cat teased the wallpaper, the wallpaper deepened its yellow hue, the window filtered in new words and sounds from the outside. The room did its rearranging. Over time, the room grew quiet, the smoke from the women's pipe cleaning from the air, the dust settling, the drawers packed with new contents, and a thing long forgen, held in the hand for a moment, was placed in a careful place. The cat, the wallpaper and the window had watched that, all agreeing with the woman.
"Is this ever going to end?" the wallpaper sighed.
"I can always bite her," the cat replied. The wallpaper glared
"Humans must do things" the window finally said.
But then the woman stopped for a time, in the center of the room. It had looked like she had forgotten something, then the moment of forgetting internerally changed to something else. She drew herself down to the floor, and into the room she laid her song. The sound moved across the dresser, brushed past the closet, down the hall and, of course, filled every space in the most careful of ways. Hearing it, the window let the words pass easily through to the outside world. The words were very quiet, it was a very quiet song, but the sound came through. They went into the wind and into the world, thin and breakable in the night, as things that escape rooms can often be. And the cat on the bed and the wallpaper with its poetry of marks, and the window with its gateway to life, and the room and the hallways and the closet and stairs, waited for a time with her, this woman on the floor, alive yet still.
And then a great beautiful nothing, unnoticed save for the briefest of moments, was suddenly, perfectly complete. And so the light was turned out, and the bed was taken with the form of the woman, and the cat curled in, and the wallpaper sighed its pigment as the window sighed into its curtain.
"Goodnight," said the wallpaper.
"Goodnight," said the cat.
"Goodnight," said the window.
"Goodnight," said the woman.