Friday, December 4, 2020

Crossword With A Pen

An old woman in pink plastic Birkenstock-style sandals over grey and black socks sits on the train working a crossword with a pen, next to a pushcart covered in a blue partly-translucent bag. The cart, one of the folding wire ones favored by old ladies on their way to the laundry, seems to be appropriately full of clothes, along with various, smaller plastic bags of the type favored by take-out places. 

As the train tilts around corners and into stations, the unsecured cart rolls away from her, and she’s forced to reach up a claw to snatch it back to her side before it escapes. This happens several times before she finally shoves a sandaled foot in front of the back wheel of the cart as a brake, and she settles back in to her crossword again.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Way Out In Brooklyn

I don’t even see him until I get off the B Train at my stop: white guy, skinny, wearing a red MAGA hat. 

At least he’s wearing a mask. I’ve never seen one in the wild, either the hat or a person who would be so brazen as to wear one, so I check him and it out through the window as I’m leaving, but neither of them are interesting enough to bear much description, except for the slight pallor to his skin and the unhealthy blue ghost of stubble that shadows the flesh of his neck.

When I tell Katie about him later, she says, “Oh, he’s getting off the train in like twenty more stops."

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Deck The Halls

Our Christmas decorating has ground to a halt as I attempt to festoon a series of hooks in the ceiling with silver garland while Katie and my roommate John offer various less-than-encouraging critiques.

Part of the problem is that the hooks are a remnant of the time when this room, now the family room, was an art studio for Katie, so the hooks are placed in formerly useful, but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, locations.

Finally, after a few attempts and a lot of pained sighing from Katie, I give up and take it down, to the relief of all.

When a different arrangement is found for hanging garland from the ceiling, Katie says, “Well, hanging it from those hooks took years off my life, so this is a lot better."

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Feeling Bad Is Extra

She knows she’s being difficult, and she apologizes, but that doesn’t keep her from asking for more, and being more obnoxious about it: more shoes, different shoes, no I don’t like that, I told you so, why did you bring that, etc. 

She knows, but she does it anyway, which either means she’s apologizing, but she doesn’t really mean it (entirely plausible), or she knows, does feel sorry, and simply can’t help it.

I find myself wondering, as we go upstairs to find an umbrella to replace the one she literally just left somewhere in the store, which it is. Where do I screw up, know I’m screwing up, do it anyway, but still feel bad about it?

Monday, November 30, 2020

Wishful Thinking

As I clear the shoe boxes from my most recent sale, the incessant jingling refrains of pop Christmas music that fill the store suddenly go quiet, and an eerie silence descends.

I search the floor expecting others to be looking up in dazed bewilderment, like a scene out of the movie Independence Day where the giant spaceships move into position over major metropolitan areas, but no one seems fazed, so I go back in the stockroom with my boxes. 

I remark in passing to a co-worker, “What does it mean when the music stops?”

“That Christmas is over?” he says wistfully.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

This Is Just A Tribute

“I told you a story earlier today,” I tell Katie as she comes in the room from her shower. 

She sleepily considers this for a bit. “A story?” she finally asks.

“Yeah, a funny one, and I thought, ‘This would be perfect for my four each day,’ but now I can’t remember it,” I finish sadly.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Cat Dreams

There’s a sound like a grumbling whine. “Is that the cat?” Katie asks.

“I think it was your stomach,” I say, looking up from my phone.

“No, I think she’s having a dream,” she insists, getting up, which wakes the cat, who begins licking her fur forcefully as if to chase away the phantoms.