Occupied Spaces



before anxiety, loft bed inches from ceiling / inside, closest to the wall, queen mattress on the floor, no heat; space heater / twin bed, alone, laptop glows / closest to bathroom, beer bottle clinking when I bump his nightstand / edge of his futon, turned away, staring at the locks on the front door / his twin mattress on the floor, pressed against the wall, bruised knees in the morning / turned away from, staring into his closet / wrapped in his blankets, he leaves the window open in winter / turned away from his current partner in the center of the futon, staring at five year old locks on the door / complete darkness, thin blankets, his cat between us / hard mattress, old pillows, our feet touching

11 lovers, 11 different beds. 11 was the age when I started to menstruate and the last time I had a warm night’s sleep. Every bed since then has felt like a stranger, even my own, and maybe that why I never feel rested when I wake up. My love, my sex, my body, my mind, my soul restless, unsettled in any bed.


itchy carpeting on his parents’ floor, watching Monty Python in England / unwashed, his loveseat is my fortress surrounded by a moat of takeout / a camera light flashes from blue to red, posed on the leather chair / orange couch, too big to be comfortable; he’d fall asleep playing video games / Bed, Bath, and Beyond trip – my choices represent me when I’m not there / wedged between sofa and coffee table: cartoons and sushi / two bodies entangled across three brown cushions, hungover / ankles on hardwood floor, sitting next to the window to smoke / five years later, I still linger in the things we bought / single green couch, only place to sit: a blanket, a cat, and naps / cats on the floor, legs draped over legs on the chair-and-a-half; our couch given to a friend

The living room has always been a secondary sleeping space. My childhood was filled with silence as parents napped, slept in their separate bedrooms. Living on my own, my bed became my couch: money wasted on a frame and mattress. Certainly the better memories happen in this space: eating, laughing, watching. The living room was never a battleground.


breakfast table and my first electric kettle; I started drinking tea my first trip to England / dishes collected mold, spilling onto the counters / cold floor, now vanished by fire / a corkscrew is a confusing gadget when you’ve never opened wine before / miniature appliances. the half-stove thought I was cute for trying / time wasted fulfilling expectations: dinner and dishes / Midwest sides splayed out for dinner parties in Calgary / a metal shelf, a drunk girlfriend, and a broken bong / he’d play the saddest songs on his guitar while I cooked dinners, both unspoken love tokens / his partner baked us muffins on the half-stove; a shared hearth / our cats prowl the counters, scale the cabinets. we measure our life in healthy pours

The kitchen is the first to be cleaned and last to be used. The entrance to the house I was raised in was through the kitchen and I’ve always felt uncomfortable if that’s not true for other homes. I’ve given up on being a homemaker, but there’s always wine on the rack and beer in the fridge. My kitchens have never been friendly; Hoosier hospitality does not apply when you have yet to find a place that feels like home.

Jenn Storey is a second-year MFA Candidate in the Creative Writing & Poetics program at the University of Washington Bothell. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Spry Literary Magazine, Peach Fuzz, Clockwise Cat and elsewhere.