Our Anniversary by Joshua Johnston
Editorial intern Zoe Maki on today's bonus story: In “Our Anniversary,” Joshua Johnston explores how to keep a relationship together with gold spray paint and a little help from Bishopman’s Hardware sales assistant, Larry.
For our anniversary, I buy my wife gold spray paint. I stop in aisle three of Bishopman’s Hardware and slap an entire row of cans into the basket. When the sales assistant approaches in his red vest and peeling nametag, I say, You’re an answered prayer, Larry. Got any more of this Valspar in the back? I don’t bother wrapping them; the plastic shopping bags are already so lovely, like great ghostly jellyfish washed in by the tide of commerce. My wife says, It’s perfect. She takes a can in each hand, shakes them with a violent rattle and goes to work on the bedroom. She sprays the top of every bedpost until the paint races down each leg in thin lines and then splatters the sheets. She double-coats framed photos of downtown Chicago, an orchard trip with her sister, a family reunion at Nolin Lake, along with the nightstand they’re resting on. I join in, pulling books from the shelf, giving Melville and Mayakovsky the Fort Knox treatment. I shoot the television as it plays. She spreads her camera equipment out on the floor and gilds every lens and flash. I open the nozzle on the guitars, and then the banjo and the chord organ. Glasses, shoes, passports, diplomas, Neil Young records, empty wine bottles, porcelain terrier figurines, an owl lamp, the carpet, the walls, the ceiling… All of this can finally be seen for the great treasure we always knew it to be. We strip off our clothes, close our eyes, take turns smothering each other in the metallic mist. We sail the fumes to El Dorado. Every expedition fails to reach us. We are beyond recovery.
Joshua Johnston was born and raised in Caneyville, Kentucky. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Salt Hill, Ninth Letter, Sprung Formal, Hobart, and Forklift, Ohio. He currently lives in Tallahassee, where he’s working on a PhD at Florida State University.