When she went to the store, she’d buy enough food for four. Telling herself, “Well, you never know.” And, “It’s such a good price for pot roast.”
She lived in a house with three bedrooms, even though it made the dusting very difficult. Just in case.
At breakfast she’d set the table for company; knives and forks, and plates, and spoons, and little placemats trimmed in white. She’d keep the one with the stain for herself, turning the brown spot towards the wall, in hopes no one would notice. When breakfast was ready, she’d set it on the table, watching the steam rise off the eggs until they were cold.
At night she’d sit in the living room piecing together pictures into postcards to send to faraway relatives traveling in exotic places like Paraguay, and Macedonia. Sometimes she’d send them recipes, even though she wasn’t sure how useful they would be to travelers. And when the light in the room grew dark at night, she’d jump up from the couch and run in her slippers to the guest rooms to turn the lights on. And sometimes, usually on the weekends, she’d turn the music on too, in the upstairs room, one door down.
And when everything was done, when all the sheets were turned down, and all the dishes were washed, she’d sit alone in her living room, and think about crying.
She wanted to cry because life had gotten too difficult. That wasn’t really the truth, but that’s what she said, out loud, too herself, listening to the words echo off the wall and bounce back at her.
“Life has gotten too difficult.”
So she went outside and watched the wind blow in the trees. She walked for a while through dark streets until she came to her favorite bit of park by the schoolyard where the dogwood tree stood. She looked up at the tree and whispered, in her smallest voice, “Much too difficult.”
So she lay down in her pale blue dress. She lay down. And the earth held her, rocking her back and forth.
And she let the earth hold her, until it wasn’t enough, and she whispered to the tree, “It is still too difficult, and much too cold.”
So the earth swallowed her, six feet deep, where it was warm and pleasant and smelled of fresh baked bread and newly mown lawn. She smiled at the worms, and thought of the names she would give them. “Susan. I’ll name the first one Susan, after my mother,” she thought to herself, with satisfaction.
She took stock of her new situation, and then gently stuck a finger out to push a sleeping white flower above the ground. “There,” she said with a smile, “There is my peace contract.” She twisted herself amongst the roots of the tree; circling a nest for herself before falling to sleep.
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED