At 6:42 a.m. she steps barefoot onto the bathroom scale. In two months, she gained five pounds. She presses a fist to her mouth and pretends not to cry. Underneath the sink she keeps her special pills for this type of emergency. She’ll take four after lunch. It started when she was seventeen, so why stop now?
At 7:24 a.m. she squeezes name brand dishwashing liquid into the dirty pan because the TV commercial lady said it’s the best soap to fight stuck-on grease. She turns on the faucet and hot, sudsy water fills the sink. She begins to scrub, then catches her reflection in the window. The new anti-aging cream isn’t working. She scrubs harder.
At 8:13 a.m. her husband staggers into the kitchen, naked from the waist up. He’s hungover from Pauline Smith’s 40th birthday party last night and she pours him a cup of coffee. He wants eggs, so she slaps a box of cornflakes down in front of him. She doesn’t mention the broken dishwasher because it’s Sunday.
At 9:25 a.m. she picks up the empty laundry basket and gathers the dirty clothes. A sock underneath the coffee table. A washcloth twisted around a leaky faucet. A blue dress shirt with another woman’s lipstick on the collar. It’ll be hard to get the stain out, but she’ll try her best because it’s her husband’s favorite. She prefers the green one.
At 10:34 a.m. the back door slams and her husband starts the car. He doesn’t tell her where he’s going, and she stopped asking two years ago because the excuses have been wrung out and left on the countertop to dry. She opens the pantry and pulls out a half-empty bottle of white wine from behind the sweet peas and green beans.
At 11:56 a.m. she’s lost track of the time. The alcohol makes the room spin because she hasn’t eaten since the party. The telephone rings, and she answers it. The man asks for a campaign donation, and she agrees to send twenty-five dollars. It’s this part of the charade she hates the most, a woman pretending to care about stuff but who stopped caring long ago.
Rebecca Buller is a native Oklahoman. Her work has appeared in various publications including Burningword Literary Journal, The A3 Review and Press, Star 82 Review, Cloudbank, and Every Day Fiction. She’s also a Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition award winner. She’s currently self-studying Spanish and the acoustic guitar. Much of her writing is done when the sun goes down.