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A break in the routine

By Lindsey DonatPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Photo by Coffeefy Workafe on Unsplash

My hand shakes violently as I set down the saucepan. Damnit. I don't think the eggs are cooked thoroughly enough, but it's too late now. I've already drained the water. I attempt to inspect the ivory orbs like I've somehow got x-ray vision, but pick them up with my hand unwittingly and...OOOHHAHHH! Why did I do that? OK now, this is ridiculous. I should be able to complete a task as painstakingly simple as hard-boiling eggs. I'm not raising the chickens myself.

Oh right, my tea. I delicately grasp the handle of my favorite mug, the one depicting a Boston Terrier, with its soulful eyes and non-judgmental character. It reminds me so much of my old friend Wiz. How long has he been gone now? Maybe I should get some chickens, then I wouldn't be so lonely.

By Claudia Love on Unsplash

As I ponder this and pour my tea, wafting the sweet aroma of honey, cinnamon, and lemon to my nose, my vision suddenly doubles. I try to keep my hand steady, but I sense a rush of volcanically hot liquid enveloping my hand grasping the handle. The mug slips from my grasp, and for a brief and terrifying moment, I see Wiz shattering on my linoleum floor.

"I'm so sorry," I sob. My stomach retaliates, vibrating with hunger. I've got to get something into my system before she arrives, because the train may not have a food menu. I tear open the pantry door. Why does it feel sticky? And for the love of God, why are my socks wet?

I reach for a metallic, shining package on the middle shelf. I can't read the label but I vaguely recall her telling me that it was meant for breakfast. I check the clock: 6:22. Yeah, this will suffice. But I still need something to drink. Did I have water on my nightstand this morning? No sense in wasting resources.

I tiptoe to my bedroom, wet toe marks underfoot. I imagine an invisible gnome is trailing me. My hallway decor looks foreign to me; what used to be floor-to-ceiling shelves of trinkets from past travels has become neon-colored cardstock with bold writing that I can't read anymore. But they say it's "for my safety" so I guess it can stay, if that makes her happy. Last time I tried to dust my trinkets my hand betrayed me anyway, resulting in a dustpan full of blood, sweat, tears, and glistening ceramic. There is also a thin hand railing snaking down the length of the hallway and around the corner to my bedroom. Most times I don't use it, just to be spiteful.

Another shockwave emanates from my abdomen. What does this one mean? Maybe I should use the bathroom, in case there are no public toilets on the train. I veer to the left and see a bathtub. Ooh, even better than changing socks. I'll wash my feet instead. I clutch the dial, willing it to turn, but it's immovable.

Faintly, an inhuman voice echoes, "Incoming call from Meera." No, no, no, no....I'm nowhere near ready for the train! And she spent all that money for this trip! I think I hear her say something about "5 minutes," so I leave my socks in the bathtub, hurriedly wipe my feet on the bathmat, and begin an exhausting search for replacement shoes. I settle on a pair of slip-ons just as a voice travels down the hallway: "Mom?"

By Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Meera asks me the usual questions, as if reading from a checklist:

  1. "Did you eat breakfast?"
  2. "Have you had any water today?"
  3. "Are your clothes clean?"
  4. "Did you get hurt?" (This is an exception to the list, because I mistakenly left the evidence in the kitchen).
  5. "Do you need the restroom?"

Following a brief conflict over whether or not I need to bring a sweater, we're ready to go. I notice a sign at the edge of the yard but don't have the time to read thoroughly. From this moment, the events of my day seem to happen in rapid succession: eating french fries on the train, checking into our hotel, passing by other guests who all appear to be elderly. I did find it strange that Meera placed a few pictures of me and our family on the hotel dresser.

Meera assists me to a bench in the lobby and tells me she is going to do some window shopping to find me another mug. Her eyes look moist. She tells me that my tour should be starting soon, but by the looks of it, no one else is waiting. She speaks quietly to the tour guides at the desk, one with a badge with "LPN" engraved on it, the other with a metal clipboard. They are smiling, but their eyes are not. Maybe I missed the tour.

I wonder what else Meera has planned for this trip.

By R O on Unsplash


About the Creator

Lindsey Donat

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