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I'm On It

But I'm Going Strange

She fumbled with the door of the convenience with the two wet bags of dough in her hands. She was having a bad day.

It had started in the morning with the neighbours kids screaming, the dog barking and in turn the parents swearing at them.

- Shut the F*@K up!

The exact words she was thinking, as she got up to go pee. Every day it was the same and it was getting tiresome.

- We should put in some insulation, her husband said the other day. This morning he had left early to work. Construction was the only work he could find during the pandemic.

- But how would we do that?

- Just build a wall on top of that wall, right now it’s just brick and plaster.

- It’s ok, I’ll just play music loud.

- Why don’t they take the kids and the dog to the park?

The dog used the balcony to do it’s business and the window to the bedroom was out of bounds now, the smell wafted in.

She reached for the toilet paper and all she found was the empty roll. There was a roll of paper towels on the sink.

When she looked in the mirror, she thought back to the days she had to take her kids out as early as possible, laying out snow suits, pushing the stroller through the snow. Thank God I’m past that stage, she had thought. It was hard, but they did it. The only way to stay sane. I guess the alternative was swearing at your kids.

The grey was growing in now, with no way to get to the salon. The Skunk, her husband called her. It was not funny. He didn’t understand what it took to try and keep her body from heading towards the Wicked Witch. His care products consisted of a bar of soap and a toothbrush. Why is it when men start going grey, people think they look experienced, while women are seen as hags? She pulled at the skin around her eyes.

She slumped back to bed to check her phone. A message from her husband.

- I’ll get some TP after work when I get the pizza stuff. Right, it was Friday. She checked the news. It was all the same. Stay home, stay safe. She clicked on her horoscope.

With Uranus in retrograde, you should be careful with your money today.

She opened the bank app to look at the bank account and sighed. She got up to wake the kids and get a coffee. Usually her husband left a thermos for her, but he must have been running late and got coffee on the way. She put beans in the grinder and -- BUZZZZZZ CLICK BLIP. The grinder died. At least there was enough for one cup.

She filled the stovetop espresso, clicked on the gas and sent her husband a message. Need new grinder.

-GET OUT!!

There was a commotion in the bathroom and banging on the door.

-I’M IN HERE!

-I NEED MY BRUSH!

-MOOOOMMMM!

After putting out the fire in the bathroom, she had smelt the coffee. S#!T! It was burnt. Without any other choice, she poured it, first scraping the scum in the mug left from the dishwasher. I’ll have to clean the dishwasher again, she thought. It seemed unfair to have to clean something that was supposed to clean your dishes. She looked around for her little black book, the one she kept ideas in for paintings or writing.

-Have either of you seen my book? The little black one!? she yelled. No response. She tried to remember what she did with it. Maybe it’s at the studio.

She thought about what she was writing about yesterday. Something about swimming, Greek myths, fairy tales, but she didn’t remember the details. It was almost time to sign in. Time to get dressed. She looked in the underwear drawer and all that was left were the uncomfortable ones.

-Hi Simon! You got a haircut. I like the lines.

-Yes, Ms. I’m going to Sick Kids for tests later today. I go for a sleepover and then I sleep tomorrow during the day.

- Sounds exciting. I wish I could come with you and sleep during the day.

With the pandemic, school for her students wasn’t really school. She had to check in with them during the day for a short period. She had thought about the parents of these children. Something to be thankful for.

Lunch. The kids made instant ramen again.

- Can you at least put an egg in it please?

They slurped up the soup, left dirty dishes in the sink and went back to school in their rooms. She soaked the dishes and texted her husband. Hope you are having a good day. More Mr. Noodle.

She got her wool coat on, her hat, her mitts, her boots. At least with the pandemic, she’d had more time to go to the studio, to work out some of the ideas she’d been thinking about. She headed out the door and almost slipped on some ice where the eavestrough dripped. The ice was half melted, turning to slush. Her boots squished the snow under the sidewalk. A large truck passed by and she knew what would happen before it did. The lower half of her long coat got soaked, the brown liquid dripped off the wool.

She made it to the studio and she put on her homemade mask. The slush continued to drop off of her as she creaked up the stairs, sweating. She got to the studio door and checked her pocket for her key. Dammit! She knocked on the door hoping that there was someone else there.

Luckily the door opened.

-Sorry, I forgot my key.

She smiled under the mask which hid her mouth.

The man with the brush in his hand turned and walked back to his space. She walked to hers and stripped down, putting her coat on the stool. She searched the desk for the little black book. It wasn’t there. She pulled her headphones out of her bag and pressed play on her phone. The Breeders.

I've laid this island sun a thousand times

I'm on it, but I'm going strange.

She sat on the stool and looked at her most recent paintings. There were geese flying and superimposed on top were images of her children’s bodies. The paintings were not quite done. They needed something… a touch of colour maybe? Some more drawing? She was afraid to add more to them, thinking that she might ruin what she had already painted. She stared and stared, looking at the feathers on the wing, her children’s feet, and in the distance a horizon line. She waited for the paintings to tell her what to do listening to the same song over and over again.

I am the autumn and the scarlet

I am the make-up on your eyes

She had written something in the little black book about these paintings the other night when she awoke from a dream. She didn’t remember what it was. After what seemed like hours of just looking, the music went quiet for a second. A text.

Gonna be late tonight. Pouring concrete. Sorry.

That meant dinner was her responsibility. She’d have to go to the bakery for the dough and Kevin’s convenience for tomato sauce and cheese on the way home. She checked the time. She had to leave and she hadn’t even had a chance to make a mark. She powered off her headphones, put on her coat and her phone buzzed again.

-Do you want to come by for a glass of wine?

-Sorry, hubby is working late and I’m on dinner tonight.

She walked to the Portuguese bakery. On the glass shelves there were trays and trays of treats - donuts, tarts, croissants, cakes, cannolis and pies but she was good and just bought the dough. It reminded her of a whiter version of her once pregnant belly, cut out of her body and bagged. The weight of the two bags were like premature newborn twins.

Outside the bakery it started to snow, and at the crosswalk, a car revved its engine loudly. It startled her and she had dropped the dough in the street. She scowled and sweared and picked up the dripping bags. She entered the convenience and the bells jingled. The man at the counter was talking loudly on the phone in another language.

She collected the tomato sauce and cheese and put them on the glass counter along with the dough, the lottery tickets shimmering below.

The green numbers glowed above the cash register and she scrounged around for her wallet in her purse. $27.08 Really?! she thought. $27 for two blocks of cheese and some tomato sauce? She held up a cheese.

-How much?

-$9.99

She decided at that moment that maybe she wanted to have a glass of wine.

-Forget it, just give me a lottery ticket.

He pulls out the lottery ticket tray and she points.

- That one, right there.

It says $20,000 INSTANTLY.

Taking the lottery ticket and leaving the rest, including the dough on the counter she walks out into the snow.

literature
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Jason Bomers

Jason Bomers is an artist living in the west end of Toronto. Jason is a multidisciplinary artist; the materials and process of his projects are concept-driven. He creates photographs, performances, installations, and sometimes writes too.

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