Compensation

Your emotional income report

A floral pattern is sketched in outline over a light brown background with patches of pink and red which appear blurred and semi-transparent. Some of the flower outlines are filled in with bright colors.
Francesa Reyes, Broken Jar. 2017, paper, colored pencil, acrylic, and oil on panel. Courtesy of the artist.

The mother decided that she wanted to install new cabinets in her kitchen, though the old cabinetsblack, with silver handleswere perfectly adequate.

The man who arrived to work on the cabinets was greeted at the door by a joke.

“Knock knock,” said Philip, who was 7.

“Who’s there?”

“Seventeen ninjas.”

“Seventeen ninjas who?” asked the cabinetmaker.

“Seventeen ninjas, you’re dead!”

“He’s not dead,” said Kathryn, who was also 7. “Maybe he made friends with the ninjas.”

“They’re not friendly ninjas,” said Philip.

“Children!” said the mother. “Don’t create compensation.”

“Oh,” said Philip. “Should we ruin his shirt so he’ll be in balance?”

“It is just as rude to decide someone’s balance as to interrupt it,” said the mother.

“It’s fine,” said the cabinetmaker.

The mother and the cabinetmaker had a long conversation about the cabinets.

“These cabinets are in fine shape,” said the cabinetmaker. “Are you sure you want to get rid of them?”

“I want them to be different,” said the mother.


The next day the cabinetmaker returned with complicated tools.

“Let me just take a photo first,” said the mother.

After laying plastic cloth in the kitchen, the cabinetmaker unscrewed the handles and hinges from the doors and stacked the doors in a pile. He pried the indented molding from the undersides of the cabinets, removed the long horizontal planks that formed the floors of each cabinet, and pulled away the vertical boards that had separated the plates and bowls from the glasses. All of this, along with veneer and other bits, was taken into the hallway and down the freight elevator to the dumpster.

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March 6, 2020
Sea Ranch