If I were at my office, I’d be complaining about central air. I’d be piling on sweaters, and crossing my ankles to retain heat. At the end of day, I’d breathe in hot air and soak up Vitamin D to lift my frozen mood all the while lamenting that summers are spent cooped up in a frozen alternate world.
Instead I’m home sweating bullets in this summer’s second back-to-back heat wave. Moving as little as possible to generate the least amount of body heat. Retreating to my bedroom throughout the day lamenting this old house lacks central air.
Time had stopped but new wrinkles swallowed Norma’s face. In the back of the kitchen cabinet, she found a lemonade pitcher she received many years ago.
The world had come to a standstill. Fear and death lurked in everywhere forcing peoples to hunker down and shun visitors. Nevertheless, acceptance and peace washed over Norma. She took advantage of the unexpected slow down and revisited old memories through pictures and writings. She thanked and discarded clothes, and eliminated unused items. A decluttered home surely would attract auspicious energy.
She washed the dusty pitcher and filled with homemade iced tea. It gleamed.
I made bacon. Not burnt, not limp — crispy bacon with the right amount of salty fat.
Long before my sister succumbed to cancer, my insides had died. Grief manifested itself in bland meals. I tried, but everything came out wrong. Even a simple cup of coffee tasted too strong or too weak, never full bodied. My immediate family suffered, too. They lost not only their beloved aunt but their mother’s home cooked meals too.
After three long years, food finally tastes like love. Maybe it’s the quarantine time or simply that time heals all wounds. Either way, I made bacon.
Our house sits close enough to Manhattan to watch the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks. Well, most times we don’t see them but it’s good to know that we could find a suitable spot to watch. It’s an advantage to live close to the city. We can observe its goings on from a safe distance. Sometimes, we witness atrocities, such as smoldering ashes months after the 9/11 attacks. Other times, we’re too close for comfort, such as the high COVID-19 mortality rate. But I digress. Today I will focus on the manmade beauty of the island of Manhattan. Happy Independence Day!
Becky’s eyes watered at the hint of ammonia. Joy mixed in with the physiological reaction to the smell. It had been months since her roots had been touched up. Ordinarily she wore sweats on hair day, but this day she wanted to reflect her festive mood. She strutted into the salon donning her best capris and necktie blouse and sat with flair for at last her quarantined hair would be tamed. Her scalp tingled during the shampoo session. Who cared that a dab of dye ruined the blouse, she mused. A new do marked a new day in Phase two.
Tiger lilies peeked above the white fence. They added a splash of orange to an otherwise green backdrop. The purple irises had withered at the start of summer and left long, waxy leaves in their stead. Closer to the ground, yellow lilies nodded with the evening breeze, thin leaves waved along. Petunias released their sweet scent in hopes of attracting cardinals and sparrows before their slumber. They in turn filled the air with song. Squirrels chased one another up the soapberry tree as they retreated to their homes. The garden maintained equilibrium in a world of pandemics and civic unrest.
Mama Robin patiently sits over her eggs. She keeps them warm and safe from the unpredictable May weather. On warm days, she searches for food and returns promptly to continue her watch. On cool, breezy days, Papa Robin brings dinner. Sometimes he gives her a break and sits over the eggs. The pair works together, a sight both sweet and remarkable. At the arrival of June, I hear tweets. A few days later, fuzzy heads pop out, beaks wide open. Mama Robin flies in with worm in tow. Papa Robin remains nearby looking out for the safety of his household.
Emma heard the thud, like a gob of silly putty had been dropped. Then she felt it. The silly putty fell onto her left foot. It rolled off. The silly putty that is, except that somehow that gob had tiny legs and a long tail. It scurried out of sight. Clatter ensued. Cutting board kerplunked, artichoke leaves flew, knife narrowly missed her foot, but above all, Emma’s shrill bounced off the kitchen walls. Stay-at-home orders were meant for humans, not rodents, she fumed as she scrubbed every inch of her body in the hottest shower that her body could tolerate.
As a child, her head danced in faraway lands. Lands filled with milk and honey, filtered sounds of mandolins, and the sweet fragrance of jasmines. The exotic lands unfolded in treasured stories and filled her fantasies. Today, she faces a new reality. No need to travel outside your front steps, for the world bands together and faces an unknown terror; a virus that doesn’t distinguish cultures or regions. We suffer the same, whether our streets are filled with colorful vendors, or swaying palm trees, or plain old johnny pumps. The new reality chilled her bones. She ached for new fantasies.
Thelma ripped pages of wasted time. Motion after motion with legal terms, such as memorialize custodial rights. The contained words had caused panic and pain, small gains and large losses, but mostly pain to the child at the center of it all. The child just wanted to freely love both parents, but they remained on high alert. One misstep, he had threatened, and he’d take legal custody. Thelma couldn’t let her guard down. Yet, it all amounted to nothing more than years of a pissing match. Hours, weeks, and years of investigating, defending, and accusing contained in a large bin.