Today was probably the hardest day of writing yet. The focus was on venturing out into a public place and describing the first ten people we see as if we were introducing them as characters in a novel. I had a yoga class tonight and thought I’d use that for inspiration. Problem is, the teacher got sick and cancelled class. I was uninspired to go anywhere else on a Wednesday night and the options seemed limited anyway. I came home and did my best to sit down and get the writing done. Here’s what I came up with:
The First Chapter of the Rest of Our Lives
We left the house at quarter past six, bellies full. The pup with eyes drawn downward making us feel bad. We knew he was faking. He’d go and play the second we left.
Our neighbor was walking her dog as we locked the door and made for the car. Her fair haired retriever who leaves us presents in the lawn was dragging her along in her fluffy pink pajama pants. She glanced our way without word.
It’s been this way since we’ve moved here. The neighbors so close together, yet so silent and to themselves.
We debated on the way to yoga. Was there one daughter or two? Is the girl in pink PJs the same as the one in scrubs? Who drives the Honda and who drives the other silver car? Was it she who shoveled the snow?
No matter what, we were both certain the mother drove the white Hyundai. But was there a man in the house? Boys come and go for the girls, but is there a man there? We can’t be sure.
When we got to the school, the parking lot was still. There were cars, but it was less than usual.
We shoved our phones in the dash and made our way to the door. Stopped on the way by an older woman in her car.
“Class is cancelled.”
We looked at each other.
“You can look for yourself, but class is cancelled.”
We told her we believed her. We waited for her to drive away then ran to look at the sign on the window. You wanted to be certain. You wanted to know.
“Just says class is cancelled. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Nothing we didn’t already know.
Others were pulling up. We let their curiosity take care of itself.
As for us, there’d be no stretching, no calming music, no hard accent guiding our slow bodies through the cold room and our inner minds.
“What will we do?” you asked.
We wanted something, but had no ideas.
We tried calling friends. They didn’t answer. It’s hit or miss with them. It was a Wednesday night anyway.
“We’ll stop for gas and milk, go home and decide.”
At the convenience store I let the gas pump as you played on your phone. You scrolled through constant squares of serving size bits of content, little snacks to satisfy your heavy soul. How I wish to scroll and scroll and see endless pages of your beautiful work. How I wish to tell you this. But I know. I know you’re not there yet.
As I walk into the store, I see another Hyundai, red this time. I recognize it. I see someone I know step in and close the door. An old love’s mother. An old love now mother to two, now recovering from her addiction. What will she put those kids through?
Last time I saw her she was buying milk too. She had her cart lined with it. Four or five gallons. Explained to me she was stocking up because she had a WIC card. Welfare. I didn’t get the logic, but it made complete sense to her.
What a waste.
I avoided the conversation, the “how ya’ beens?” and “what’s news?”. I went inside and picked up the watery delight of one percent you like so much. I don’t mind it at all, my love. Not one bit if it makes you happy.
Two cashiers and two customers. The pair on the right were silent. Just a simple transaction. Chips, smokes, and a handful of lotto tickets. I wonder if he imagines it’ll get him out of whatever weighs heavy on his life.
Everything I’ve ever read says the lotto causes more problems than it’s worth. You play all your money and if you win you get an amount you’ve never imagined having. You spend it all and end up broker than before, playing the lotto again, hoping to luck out and live it all over.
I could tell the two on the left knew each other.
“That’s not your car out there?”
“Nope. I’m parked somewhere over there.” He waved to the back of the lot.
“Sure it’s not yours?” The clerk couldn’t let it go.
The customer on the right walked away with his goodies. Bumped my shoulder as he turned to go. I stepped up to the counter but the clerk walked away. I waited for the two on the left to finish their conversation.
“It turned on by itself. Sure it’s not yours?”
“Okay. Well it’s going to be towed.”
“Okay. Well I’ve got to get back over there. Talk to you later.”
“Okay. Have a good day.”
I stepped up and said hello. He wasn’t so friendly with me. Quiet, reserved. His English wasn’t great. Pakistani maybe. Did he own this place? Was he just a worker? How’d he find this job?
I bought the milk and came back to you. Pulled the nozzle from the gas tank, hung it back on the pump, and drove us home.
“What will we do?” you asked lying on the couch, the pup squeeking on his favorite toy.
“I don’t know.”
The truth is, I was happy enough sitting there with you in the silence. I was happy enough staring into those beautiful eyes you so often downcast and pull away.
I leaned in and kissed you.
“I love you,” I said.
“I love you too,” you said still scrolling through those endless squares.