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Running Dispute

It all comes down, she thinks, to this simple fact: wide piles are bad and tall piles are good; for example, he maintains a stack of newspapers on the living room coffee table, occasionally beside, but often on top of what she has been reading-(this week he's buried The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)-and his pile, she has to admit, is both neat and chronological, but usually rather tall; also, on the kitchen counter, he has two (but sometimes three, four or more) piles: right now one is birthday cards (his birthday was two months ago) and the other is bills (unfortunately, also rather tall), but in a month or so there will be, at minimum, an additional pile containing tax forms and another of golf equipment catalogs, and so, perhaps, it is not just that tall piles are good, but that tall, homogeneous piles are good, because, she notes, her piles are clearly of the heterogeneous sort, composed of leftover or hard-to-put-away things, like takeout menus, spare socks, and photographs of their trip to Nantucket that she's been meaning to frame, and thus her piles, in addition to being wide, are both eclectic and portable, since she doesn't mind dumping them into a laundry basket in order to hide them in a closet when people come over; and so, she concludes, it must all come down to this: it is not just that tall, homogeneous piles are good, but that tall, homogeneous, stationary piles are good--but it also comes down, she feels, to something else entirely, to an expanding certainty that they are making, out of 1040s and metro sections, the odd joker or two--what else?--mountains.

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Denver Quarterly