When I wake up, it’s raining outside and his side of the bed is getting cold. I’m chasing the coattails of an interesting dream, but it has already fled to the parts of me that are still murky with sleep, lurking just outside the reach of my searching mind. I give up and roll over onto my back, kicking fitfully at the big, stripy comforter and basking in the cool morning air for a moment while I look at the ceiling. There are a lot of squiggles in the ceiling tiles, and I meditate briefly, and not for the first time, on how in the world ceiling tiles must be made. As I slide out of bed and shrug on some warm clothes, I glance over at the half-closed door to the bathroom. Steam is curling out the top of shower, and the way he rustles the curtains with his scrubbing make the brightly colored fish that cover them look alive. He’s singing some song by the Beatles really terribly. Something about it all makes me smile for no reason. The feeling of the mangy carpet under my feet gives me a sense of solidarity and I enjoy curling it between my toes for a minute. I find my contacts and put them in, then go look for some breakfast.
I think about yelling, “Good morning,” to him before leaving the bedroom, but decide that I’d rather be serenaded while I’m eating. A heap of clean clothes waits patiently in front of the door for someone to fold it, and I have to kick at it until it will let me through. As I close the door behind me, something across the apartment in the kitchen catches my eye, and for a moment, everything seems to hang suspended in time while his muffled song leaks through the drywall. I blink at what I’m seeing, hoping it will go away.
How many times have I told him? A bowl sits on the counter; a pool of tepid milk lies in the bottom of it. My hands start shaking and I can feel my cheeks flushing. Oh no. I can see that the cabinet is left open, and I’m terrified of what I’ll find as I circle slowly around our furniture and into the kitchen. My heart is racing, and my eyes pound in time at the top of my skull. Oh no no no. There it is…there is the last straw. Things had been going well these past few weeks, and now this! I tug desperately at the drawer that’s got my pills in it. So much progress lost. I manage to wrestle the top off the bottle, but I’m trembling too violently by now, and only manage to smash one of the little capsules into my chin while the rest of them glance off my elbow and spill into the sink. Shit! The shower stops running. I panic and my vision begins to tunnel, so I yank my cell phone off the charger, scrabble to get everything into my purse and take off before I have to face him while I’m in a state.
I fumble with the keys to our Impala, and barely manage to get out of the parking garage while tears threaten to blind me. Why would he do it again? What the hell was he even thinking?! I try to push it from my mind and concentrate on getting to work in one piece. Between the frantic strokes of my wiper blades I see a line of bicyclists braving the morning drizzle. There are so many fucking bicyclists in this part of the city. Why do they have to drive on the road, for God’s sake? What’s wrong with the goddamn sidewalk? Why did we move to this stupid, yuppie neighborhood in the first place?! I just want to run them over. I want to careen wildly, picking them off one by one, their water bottles flying over my hood and their astonished expressions imprinting themselves on my windshield. Now I realize I’m screaming and that my throat is starting to hurt. Maybe I should pull over. No, I can make it - I’m almost to work now. It’s still early and there are plenty of spaces open still. I swerve into the first spot I see, running the Impala up onto the curb. It sends the adorable little clay angel that dangles from the rearview mirror into a ballistic little dance like a fly tethered to a thumbtack.
The day agonizes by, and I can’t shake the desperate rage from my head. I feel delirious with contempt. In two hours, I’ve snapped all my pencils into the smallest bits I can get them, and I’ve taken ten trips to the water fountain. In seven hours, I’ve accomplished nothing and am reduced to gripping tightly to my desk. I decide to head home early for the day. There’s nothing to be done but face this problem head on. On a whim, I stop by a sporting goods store on the way.
As I reach the door of our apartment, I can feel my hands pulsing with fury and anticipation. Sweat beads out of my forehead and my skin itches like it’s on fire. I cling to the doorknob until my knuckles turn white and can feel all the scratches and places where the gold paint has chipped off on its worn and faded surface burning into my palm. When I find him, he’s watching cartoons on the sofa. His hands occupy themselves, pulling loose threads and tufts of foam from the armrest. He looks up at me with a bemused expression, like a cow startled from grazing. When I raise the shiny new baseball bat over my head, he cocks his head to the side and scrunches up his eyebrows.
“Whu-?” he starts.
“FOR THE LAST TIME,” I shriek, punctuating each of my words with a ferocious swing at his skull, “DON’T. EAT. MY. FUCKING. GRAPENUTS.”