I blinked as my eyes adjusted to the light. Where was I? Oh… right. I sat up and stretched out my neck, rolling my head from side to side. I must have dozed off again in the middle of reading. My eyes were still heavy with sleep and the muscles in my back were tight and knotted. The book lay open on the floor, its pages splayed and bent from its fall as I drifted off toward a dream that now escaped my memory. How long had I been asleep?
I walked over to the window and pulled apart the blinds. It was raining again. It was raining, still…Perhaps it was the dreary slate-gray sky and the rhythmic falling of the rain lulled me away from my book and into a dream; a dream of clear skies and warm, dry earth. I honestly couldn’t remember the last sunny day the city had seen before hurricane season began. The city had been under severe weather alerts for the past three weeks in anticipation of the next tropical storm. No real wind damage had been done, but there were countless roads closed due to the flooding. It seemed as if the culverts and rain grates had been overflowing for weeks. In that moment I wondered how Noah had kept from strangling his family members while he was trapped on the ark for forty days and nights with the stench of animal waste and the penetrating sound of the rain as it fell continuously. Lucky for me, I wouldn’t ever know, although the rising rain waters threatened to flood the driveway and carry my tiny white Hyundai away with the tides.
The kitchen was dark and melancholy, as was the rest of the house. If the need for nourishment did not surpass my desire for hibernation through the rest of the rainy season, I was sure I would have spent the remainder of it under the comforting warmth of the hand-made quilt on my bed. It called out to me, “Come lie beneath me; take shelter from the storm under my consoling patches. Wait out the rain draped in my soft, cottony haven.”
“I hear you, quilt… but Stomach has different ideas.”
When had I started talking to myself? I realized it was somewhat eccentric, but at the same time, I couldn’t help feeling that I needed to somehow fill the silence. Music helped but could not do much to fill the void silence created. Having tried everything from John Coltrane, Aerosmith, Quiet Riot, to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, the quiet stillness that permeated the entire house always won in the end. As I thought to myself about the coincidental alliteration of my favorite classical composers’ names, I opened the refrigerator and peered inside.
“More artificial light…” I mumbled to myself. It seemed these days that not even the dogs were willing to listen. Anna, with her neurotic ways had long since taken to curling up on the couch for hours on end, pacing intermittently as the thunder clapped outside. Cyd had never been much for conversation and would lie on the cool tile floor in the kitchen as the rain poured from the skies, barking only in response to the crashing thunder and the flashing lightening as though they were intruders to be chased away from the door.
“You have the right idea, Cyd Sue… You bark at that weather; send it somewhere else… anywhere but here.”
I untwisted the twisty tie on the bread and took out two slices. It was definitely a grilled cheese and tomato soup kind of day. I went to the cabinet beside the oven and got out the skillet. I assembled my sandwich and as it was frying in what some may have called an excessive amount of butter, I opened a can of tomato soup and heated it in a small saucepan. I cut off another tablespoon of butter from the stick of unsalted Imperial on the counter and heard the voice of Dr. Oz in my head, preaching on the negative effects of high cholesterol, and high caloric value of real butter… High cholesterol or not, I was going to go to my grave with a fully stimulated palette and a smile on my face, because I refuse to sacrifice taste for health. What was good health if you spent it miserably counting calories, and obsessively measuring portions? That was no life for me. I had learned in my late teens that a nice five-mile run could easily lay to rest any concern I had for my feminine figure. That coupled with a relatively active metabolism meant I could add a little butter to whatever I chose, whenever I saw fit.
The clock said half past four o’clock in the afternoon as I nibbled the corner of my grilled cheese sandwich. Not really time for dinner, but Stomach always got the last say on food consumption. Two hours gone. That had become my goal of late- to spend away the hours of each drizzly day until the next, counting down the moments until I would see his face again.
I burned my tongue on a spoonful of soup which caused me to jerk, spilling the spoonful of lava-hot soup down the front of my pastel pink camisole. I looked down at the orangey stain in annoyance. Fitting, I thought. I never made it my business to never wear pink. Something about the color bespoke a feminine weakness I was currently fighting to repress. The sheer irony of it all nearly brought me to tears, ruining my weep-free streak of two weeks.
I finished my lunch and took off the camisole and cursed the tomato soup splatter as I carried it to the laundry room and sprayed it with stain-removing detergent. Laundry was so simple. A couple pretreatment sprays and your garments were as good as new… As if to shame the stains themselves for daring to soil the articles of clothing in the first place. Why couldn’t the rest of life be as easy as laundry detergents? It was then that I felt that all my house work had the strange potential for some deep philosophical truth and I had the sudden urge to scrub the toilet to uncover the mysteries of life it held within its porcelain bowl.