For many of us, the holidays mean more spending. Too much spending. We have our present bills, and new bills are about to be added. But we want that joy of spending. Sometimes we have to get creative to produce the joy we want. Check out the short story My Day PART 1. I hope you enjoy it.
JANIE SAT UP AND GASPED.
Her eyes sprung open. Her hands moved furiously through the air. She screamed. But nothing came from her mouth. She panted, trying to catch her breath. Her head jerked from one corner of the room to the other. Where was she? It was too dark for her to see. Then she realized where she was.
She was in bed in her bedroom. The curtains over the windows were partly opened. The moonlight that shone in confirmed it. It was a dream. She exhaled. She was not being strangled to death by a stranger. It was a dream. It was all a dream.
She breathed through her nose with her mouth closed, trying to be quiet. She pushed her fingers through her hair as she looked at the clock on her nightstand. It was two a.m. She laid back down and told herself she had to go to sleep. She had a big day ahead. Being exhausted would make it even harder.
After a few minutes of laying there and looking up at the ceiling, Janie was snoring.
Loud music woke Janie. Stevie Ray Vaughan was singing The Sky Is Crying. She reached over to the nightstand. Her fingers patted the top of the nightstand in search of the alarm clock radio button. She pressed the button down. The music stopped.
Janie lifted her head. Her half-closed eyes saw the clock. The red numbers read sixty-thirty a.m. Four and a half hours had gone by that fast? Too early to get out of bed. She put her head back down and dozed off to sleep. Less than a minute, she was snoring.
Her head shot up when she heard the radio again. The time was six fifty-five a.m. She pushed her husband, Paul, on the leg with her feet. He had not woken up on the first or second alarm. He could sleep through anything. Not her. A mild stir from anyone in the house and she was awake.
Paul turned his back to her and slept. She put both feet against his butt and pushed him again. He grunted and reached back to push her feet away. She slid her body down the bed until her feet were on his upper back.
“Wake up,” she whispered. Paul did not move. The radio playing and pushing him did not make him move. “Get up. You have to help the kids get dressed this morning. Remember. I have an early showing today.”
“Okay,” Paul said in a raspy voice. “I just need to open my eyes and adjust to the light.” She told him there was no light. That he needed to get going. “Why don’t you start without me? I’ll join in later.”
She got out of bed and went across the room and flipped the two light switches. All the ceiling and floor lights came on. Paul pulled the blanket up over his head. She walked over and yanked it off his head. He covered his face with his hands. She left the bedroom and went into the bathroom. She returned holding a spray bottle. She stood next to him. His hands covered his face.
“Didn’t want to do this,” she said. “But you left me with no choice.” She aimed the nozzle of the bottle at his face and squeezed the trigger. A stream of water hit his hands. He jumped up.
“Why?” he asked, wiping his hands on his plaid boxers. She laughed and told him he asked for it. He had asked for it.
Paul was late for a meeting two weeks earlier. He was never late for meetings. The night before, he had stayed up and watched his favorite football team play. The game went on longer than he thought it would. But he did not go to bed. He watched until the end. The next morning he woke up thirty minutes late. He was upset with himself that he had to rush through his morning. Stuffing down a bagel, he told Janie to spray him with water if he did not get up on time again.
“Forget I said that,” Paul said. “That was a stupid thing to say. I wasn’t thinking that day.”
She laughed and wrapped her arms around him and kissed him. “You’re cute when you’re mad,” she said. He told her he was cute and stupid. “You married me. You must not be too stupid.” He told her she had a point. “See, that was a great answer.” He squeezed her and kissed her on the cheek. “Do you still find me sexy and beautiful?” she whispered in his ear.
“All day and every day,” he said. He wondered where her question came from. Janie had never asked that kind of question. She did not lack confidence in herself. Many forty-five-year-old women complained about their bodies and looks. Not her. Not that he had ever heard. “I’m sorry I haven’t jumped your bones more lately. I’ll do better.”
“You better,” she said and kissed him. He sensed something was off with her. But what? They kissed again. “I know you told me not to worry.” She sighed. “But I am.” That was it. He knew what it was.
She was referring to their finances. Their three kids were in private schools. That came to forty-five thousand a year. The renovation of their house was far more than the estimate. They had not planned for that much. That bill was close to two hundred thousand. And the house could use an additional one hundred to two hundred thousand dollars more in renovations. If they had known the real renovation cost, they would have sold the house “as-is.” To add to their financial stress, Paul’s sales manager’s position could be eliminated. His company was about to merge. No one knew—even senior management—who would stay or who would go.
“We’re fine,” he said. “We’re doing okay. Stop worrying. We’ve always come through. And, several recruiters have contacted me already. Other companies are showing interest in me too.” He kissed her. “So stop worrying.” He hugged her tightly. With two fingers she wiped tears from her eye.
She sniffed and smacked him on the butt. “Okay,” she said. “You’re right. I panic too much.” She kissed him. “Your turn to wake the rugrats.”
He stumbled out the bedroom door and yelled to their kids to wake up.
Janie felt guilty watching him leave their bedroom. Tears filled her eyes. She went into the bathroom and washed her face. Her stomach hurt. She quickly knelt down and stuck her head over the toilet bowl and vomited.
On her knees, Janie straightened up and flushed the toilet. Her hands were on the toilet to steady herself. Her head was spinning. She stuck her head back over the toilet bowl and vomited. She waited beside the toilet for the queasy feeling to subside.
She spat into the toilet bowl and got to her feet and looked in the mirror. “You’re an awful person,” she whispered at herself. Everything had gotten away from her.
She rinsed her mouth, washed her face, and headed downstairs to make breakfast.
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this story. I will post Part 2 this week. Eventually, I will post on consistent days. I just need to figure out which days. Have a great week ahead. Thanks for coming by.