Just a Trim

leaf on hardwood floor
(Photo credit: Steve A Johnson)

Jen marches into the seemingly empty kitchen and eyes the house plant. It hangs neglected, yellowed, wilted, from a hook in the ceiling. Jen crosses the room, snatches the shears from the knife block then turns to attack the plant.
“A house full of people, and no one takes care of the plants.” She says to herself.
She starts cutting, removing dead leaves and stiff vines.
“Ten people in this house,” she says, her voice rising with every snip of the shears. “Six adults and four children, and not a single person remembers to water the damn plants.”
Brown and yellow leaves flutter to the floor.
“OK, you can’t expect the shit-storm to handle watering duties, but there is no excuse for anyone else.”
“Shit-storm” she says again, enjoying the sound of her new nickname for her sister’s baby.
“Shit-storm,” snip.
“Shit-storm,” snip.
“Shit-storm!” She yells.
The denuded houseplant hangs quietly. The cuttings form a pile at her feet.
She steps back, away from her work, slapping the shears onto the kitchen table.
She hears a gasp.
Bending down, she sees her nephew, her brother’s middle child, crouching under the table, a toy car clutched in his little hand. He looks up at her through wide eyes under a tangle of too-long hair.
“You need a hair cut, kid.” She tells him.
He scoots away from her, eyes growing even wider.
She laughs, “No, no, not now, not by me. Don’t worry, kiddo.”
Smiling, she puts the shears away, gathers up the cuttings and takes them out the back door.

Watching the Clock

clock
watching the clock
(Photo credit: klynslis)

I see her. She sits at the kitchen table, the laptop is open and her hand is on the mouse, but she is looking out the window. She looks bored. Her eyes follow the movements of her four-year-old daughter. She looks back at the laptop. She clicks to refresh the screen. No new emails. She turns back to the window.

I know what is going through her mind, she is wondering what her son is doing right at this moment. She knows he is fine, but she can’t stop wondering. He’s been her constant companion for six years. But now, three weeks into kindergarten and it’s like he’s been going to school all his life.

This morning she walked him into the school as usual, but instead of holding her hand, he ran ahead, into the surging mob of children. She could only watch as he found his own way to his classmates, as he started a conversation with his teacher. She waited for him to remember that he hadn’t given her a kiss goodbye. She waited and waited, her younger child’s hand forgotten in her fist. He never turned around. The teacher marched the children in a sloppy line into the classroom. She watched her son. He smiled and laughed and talked and completely forgot to look, to turn, to see her standing there. Waiting.

I watch her wander around the house while he is gone. She takes good care of her other child. She straightens and washes, she picks up and puts away.

She watches the clock and I can hear her say, “he is having snack time now. Now he’s at lunch. Today is Wednesday, so now he is at the library.”

She watches her daughter playing by herself.

I see a little girl, a second child, just like her mother. She will grow up content within her own thoughts. She won’t seek validation from others, she will grow up confident and strong. She will never be dependent on anyone. Until she has a child. A child so completely a part of her that she will depend on his moods to know her own.

Until the day he forgets to turn back: on that day he will release her. She will return to her own thoughts, recognize her own moods. She will take a breath and look around, and say, “Now what?”

Today

Watch out, world, I am in a mood today.

There is a mischievous wild-child crouched in my brain today, concocting schemes of madness and mayhem to inflict on the unaware.

Nothing good or productive will flow from my fingers today. I will write no happy endings. I will type no words of encouragement to fellow wannabes. I will click no likes or follows.

Today I scorn the tears of tree-hugging environmentalists and applaud my friend’s purchase of a gas-guzzling SUV.

Today I laugh at the losers who spent thousands on lottery tickets and predict a lifetime of misery for the winners of millions.

Today I sneer at idiots in the public eye who can’t keep their fists to themselves and join the crowds of strangers who scream with one voice, “you suck!”

Today I believe the apocalypse is near, if only to squash the careful plans made by the hopeful.

Watch out, world, here I go…

…back to bed. This mood is exhausting.