She woke up about two seconds before the alarm went off. She was indifferent about waking up. There was no real choice in the matter. The choices that were available weren’t anything she would consider. Don’t get up, don’t go to work, don’t pay the rent. Those were not choices and consequences that appealed to her.
She got out of bed and made her way downstairs to the kitchen. Living here seventeen years and she still couldn’t get use to that smell that greeted her every time she walked into the kitchen. It was an old smell. It wasn’t quite a mold smell. And it couldn’t be mold anyway. She’s scrubbed inside and out for seventeen years hoping to eradicate that smell. She never saw any mold, and the smell never went away. Sometimes she thought it might just be a ghost. Because if it was something physical she would have bleached it into non-existence by now.
She turned on the old but reliable coffee pot and opened the back door. The sun was not quite up, yet. If she timed it perfect she could be sitting in her chair at her little table, looking out the door. If she sat just right the door frame would perfectly frame the picture of the sun breaking. If she sat just right she wouldn’t see the neighbor’s houses or the telephone poles. If she sat just right and kept her chin tilted up she wouldn’t see the trash cans sitting in the alley out back.
Her cup was ready from where she set it out the night before after she finished her dishes. She turned it over and poured a healthy dose of mocha flavored creamer into the cup. Her splurge at the grocery store this week. It made her feel good, to be good to herself in little ways like that. When the coffee pot had a little more than her mug full in it she pulled the pot out to fill her cup. She put the pot back to finish filling up.
She sat at the table, sitting back in her chair. Sipping her cup of coffee. And waiting patiently those few minutes. She felt fancy doing this every morning. She thought about the mornings Gene would be running around trying to get out the door for work. She used to beg him to sit and watch with her, just for three minutes. He would always give an excuse. When he moved out he told her he thought there was more to life than getting up, watching the sun rise, going to work, and going to bed. And he just left. To go find more excitement. She knows there was more to it than that. He thought that woman he worked with was more exciting than she was.
She knew that no matter what he said, and what excitement he went looking for-he still got up every day and went to work, and came home and went to bed. Only he probably still never watched the sun rise.
With the sun up and starting it’s business she went about hers. She liked tidying up before work so when she came home she could feel fancy again by having a clean house. Like a housekeeper had come in while she was at work.
It didn’t take long to tidy up. The old concrete block house was originally built as a storage building. Someone trying to make a dollar turned it into a rental house. The bedroom and bathroom were upstairs which worked out great at night, not having to come downstairs to go to the bathroom. But during the days when she was home she was constantly running up those stairs to go to the bathroom.
It kept the fat off is how she looked at it.
The kitchen and living area downstairs were separated by an arched doorway. Someone tried to make the place look nicer than a storage building. She loved the arch and had painted, ever so lightly, vines of ivy growing up each side of the arch and meeting in the middle at the top of the arch.
Once she was dressed for work she packed her lunch before walking out the door. Smiling as she locked the door behind her. Her own little cottage. Concrete block to some. Stone cottage to her.
Work was work. She worked to get paid. She never thought she was much smart. But she was good at showing up and doing what she was told. She was liked more than she knew. And appreciated by everyone who had to ask her to do something, or had something done by her because she saw it needed done. She sat with whoever came in the lunch room at lunch time. They would all talk about the things they did, or were going to do, or wished they could do.
On her way home from work she drove through the fast food take out and picked up a side salad and a coke. The boy behind the counter called her by name and always made sure her salad was full of vegetables. He wouldn’t let anyone skimp on her. She didn’t really know that, she just thought he was a very nice boy. She even tipped him sometimes if she had some extra dollars. When she opened her door to the kitchen she smiled because she was home. She put a chicken breast on the little electric kitchen grill someone gave her at work when they decided they didn’t like it. She changed her clothes to shorts and a t-shirt and put her lunch things away. Soon enough the chicken was done. She put the salad in a big glass bowl, mixing everything up good. She cut the chicken into hot chunks and threw it on top of the salad, adding shredded cheese from the refrigerator.
She sat down in the living room and ate her salad while watching Youtube videos of people singing who never would have been heard if it wasn’t for Youtube. She cried more than once watching someone sing a song they wrote about their life.
After she cleaned up her dinner she went out on the porch. Her landlord finally agreed to build one for her when she said she would pay for the materials. He felt so guilty about that that he took the money and bought her a swing to sit in on the porch. She used it every day she could. The landlord even made a point to sit in it with her when he stopped to pick up each months rent, if he wasn’t in a hurry.
Neighbors waved, some yelled over to her as they came home from their jobs. Or as they left to take kids to ball games.
As darkness started to fall she went inside and set her coffee cup out for the morning. She took her shower and got her clothes ready for work. She poured herself a glass of chocolate milk, added a little chocolate syrup to it for an extra dollop of joy. Soon she was settled on her bed with her chocolate milk and latest book. She read until she couldn’t hold the book steady. She lay the book down on the far side of the bed. She got up and cracked open the window hoping for a slight breeze. She was well rewarded with a sweet smelling whiff of lilac and maybe sweet pea.
The moon was right there and didn’t it look brighter than bright. She took a minute to enjoy it. And went to bed.
She closed her eyes.
Not just another day.
One of the pages of the story of her life.