It was a long but okay day.  I got quite a bit of work done at the office, went to Whole Foods on my lunch and picked up ingredients for dinner, and beat the traffic getting home.  Win all around.

When I got in the house, my daughter was asleep in her bed.  The trash had not been taken out and dishes were still in the sink.  I made a conscious decision not to argue with her.  She had been at her dad’s house since Friday and today was Tuesday.  Things had been left on a sour note and, although I was not going to budge on my insistence she show more respect, I wasn’t in the mood for another argument. My mother would say, “Pick your battles.”

I unpacked the groceries, sliced the veggies and got them on the stove before heading to my room to change.  As I pulled a gray Texans t-shirt over my head, my phone clinked the slot machine sound that indicates the arrival of a text message.  I grabbed it off the bed and pressed my thumb against the sensor.  My ex.

The teen was late to class today.  Again.  I sat wearily on the edge of the bed with a sigh.  “What are we going to do?” I texted.  Ten minutes later, despite trading several messages, and no closer to a solution than when I picked up the phone, I noticed a strange smell.

“Shit!”  I left the veggies on the stove.  In the kitchen, I grabbed the pan off the stove and stuck it under the faucet.  I was trying to sauté my onions and peppers the healthy way, using only water, no butter or oil.  Apparently, they burn a lot faster that way.  In disgust, I tried to pick out the salvageable pieces.  My compost pile grew quickly as only a few slices made it into my bowl.

The teenager came down the hallway, “What’s that smell?”

“I burned the onions and peppers I was cooking.”

“Oh. Glad I’m not hungry.”

“Huh? I thought you were starving?  You texted me when you got home about dinner.”

“Oh, yeah.  I’m not hungry anymore. I ate some corndogs.”

She took a drink out of the fridge and started back to her room.  I stared at her back as she walked away.  What the fuck do I even try for?

I leaned my head against the vent hood over the stove and picked out a charred piece of green pepper.  Then a piece of onion.  I could feel the prickling of tears at the back of my eyes but they wouldn’t come.  My hands started to shake.  I clenched my fist and the piece of green pepper turned to mush between my fingers.  I flung it on the stove and stared.

The liquor rack held only two bottles, both nearly empty.  I hardly ever drank any more.  I took a minute maid from the refrigerator and poured it into a cup simultaneously with the vodka.  Three gulps and the cup was drained.  Fuck dinner.

I sat on the end of the couch and put my feet up.  The remote was next to me so I turned the tv on.  Wheel of Fortune.  My grandmother used to watch it religiously.  She loved Pat and Vanna.  I usually called her when I got off work but I knew better than to call when “The Wheel” was on.  The clue was a crossword.  I watched some guy named Anthony lose all his money and a trip to Italy by landing on “bankrupt” before Carol solved it with only one letter left in the puzzle.

It was depressing.  I turned it off and looked around the living room.  I took in the out-of-season wreath on the wall that should have come down months ago, but for some reason I never bothered; the bookcase filled with history books, children’s books, books on religion and travel books; and the lamps on the end tables.  The shades were too small.  I needed to replace them but….. and then I saw it.  A hole.  Oddly shaped and not very big, but a hole nonetheless.  I don’t remember what made it exactly, some flying object or another.  But the feelings it brings are unmistakable.  My heart beat increases, my stomach tenses up.  I look away quickly.  It’s just a hole.  It can’t hurt me.  He can’t hurt me.  I am safe.  No one is going to wake me up screaming in the middle of the night.  I don’t have to argue any more.  I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

I feel something cold and jerk.  My dog has pressed her wet nose against my foot.  I look at her and sigh.  “Come on girl.  Let’s go for a walk.  I’ll think about this tomorrow.”

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