Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Right leg over the left. Her slippers used to be white, but have become victims to the dust from pets, grandchildren and sweeping the deck; one hangs from her toes. She sits at the kitchen table that she found at a DeCarr’s yard sale six years ago. She’s painted it white, and sealed over the silverware drawer on the side. She used to bang her knee on it when crossing her legs under the table. Her body has learned its lesson and now her slim legs rest, crossed outside of the table legs as her chair sits farther from the table. Still, though, she can reach the glass ash tray that sits in front of her, by extending her right hand. Her elbow rests on her elevated knee, left arm crosses her lap, and she hunches forward. A morning’s cigarette balances carefully on the writing callous of her middle finger and her pointer. She inhales deeply and watches the clouds darken over the hills outside of her kitchen window. It must be raining, but she cannot see it through the screen. Goosebumps form on her knees and thighs and she pulls her robe over them, taps her cigarette down, exhales, and sits quietly. Her coffee was too hot when she poured it in her mug and she waits for it to cool. Sugar sits uncovered in an opaque, pink glass bowl in the middle of the table. She doesn’t use it, but can see divots in the top layer- a sure sign that small fingers have been dipping in for a treat. The radio plays morning talk shows and she half listens. The light above the stove is on. A huff from the dog under the table breaks the silence. She taps his head with her foot. “Hi, Bij.” He moves closer to her, almost under her chair, knocking her ankles. She laughs.

Already, she’s said her prayers, and started a crossword puzzle. The dishes are clean and put away. Meat for dinner tonight is thawing. She ignores the bundles of dog hair that dance across her linoleum floor since she will have to sweep it up again later anyway. Now, it’s time to wait for the rest of the world to wake. It’s hard to sleep now. Four AM seems like a reasonable time to wake these days. She drinks coffee because she always has. At night it helps her stay awake; in the morning it’s a habit. She double checks the calendar on the fridge. It’s Wednesday, Scott and the kids will be over tonight. Wine Valley, she inks in “N-A-P-A.”

She has a lot to think about, but to her it seems like nothing at all. A colorful ring of eight birthstones sits on her middle finger. None of the stones repeat. Eight births, 11 marriages, 5 divorces, and nearly thirty grandchildren. She can now hear the rain pelt against the glass door behind her. Chickadees scramble to dodge drops and get back to their homes nestled in wooden houses, nailed to posts in the field. She turns to watch them retreat to their nests and smiles. She’s already smothered her cigarette into a pile of ash. She pushes off the table and stands. She stops to make sure the birds have made it safely. A ginger cat rubs against her shins. He purrs as his back and tail stretch, arch and relax. She points to a blue rimmed bowl on the floor. He obediently trots over and begins crunching. She takes one last look outside. Leaves are beginning to turn. She sips her coffee, dumps the rest in the sink and goes to her bedroom to close the windows.

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