She got home from work late. Eating lunch took longer than she expected and then she had lingered on the walk home, stopping to look at every third pair of shoes, not because they were interesting, but because it slowed her down. The end result was that she had to stay late to finish inputting her notes. The last few were just copied and pasted from a particularly good one she wrote last week.
“Where have you been?”
“Work. Is there any dinner left?”
“I never made it.”
“What? Why not?”
“I went out for a while and I didn’t get back in time.”
“What am I supposed to eat?”
“There are Pop-Tarts.”
“I don’t want Pop-Tarts. I’m an adult. I want an actual dinner.”
There was no response. Joan slammed her bag down on the couch and kicked her shoes off in opposite directions. The left one whipped by the cat and into a dried fern, which exploded in a confetti of former life and present dust. The cat didn’t flinch.
“Dammit,” she scolded herself. “I really wanted to keep that one alive.”
“Which one, the cat or the fern? Because the cat is technically still alive.”
“The fern. That was the one I got when I first moved in. It’s been with me longer than you or the cat.”
“It hasn’t been ‘with’ you for months. How could you not notice?”
“I dunno. I’ve been busy.” She peeled a corner of the plastic cover off her dinner, and she realized what had just happened. “Hey, don’t do that. I told you I don’t like when you talk to me in my head. You did that earlier today when we were at work.”
“What does it matter? We’re alone.”
“It just makes me feel exposed. Like I don’t have any privacy.”
“You don’t have privacy, not from me, at least. I can’t pretend I don’t hear you.”
“Yes, yes you can.” She slammed the door to the oven with more force than she was expecting to use. It startled her, but she didn’t think about it for long. Crossing her arms, she tilted back on her heels as the plate rotated. She was doing her best “middle-distance” stare, like when she would need to use the oven at work but another team was having lunch. Somehow she felt like if she avoided eye contact, she would be invisible.
The nice thing about using the microwave was that she couldn’t hear her when it was on. In fact, she had discovered that she couldn’t even come into the room. She wasn’t sure why, but she took full advantage of it. “I mean,” she reassured herself, “I don’t have to listen to her, and I do need to cook my dinner, since no one else did.” Also, there was so much about her that she didn’t understand. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to add one more thing—a thing that actually made her life easier for a change.
And all she had to do was get used to overcooked green beans.
Need to play catch up? Read the rest.