She awoke at 6:30am on Sunday morning. It no longer mattered if it were the weekend or a weekday, if she were working or not. She always awoke at 6:30am. She was not a morning person. She was not even a day person. She was hostage to a Pavlovian fear of being late for work, which she still sometimes was as public transportation was prone to breaking down, catching fire and being the scene of crimes, suicides and other unfortunate events. Maybe she wasn’t even a night person. Maybe she was no kind of person. She had a panic attack and went back to sleep.
She awoke three hours later to the instrumental howls of a marching band passing under her window. She arose and checked her email. Her family had written to inform her that they would not be visiting for Easter. Today was April 1. She replied, “is this an april fools joke?” No. It was not. They could not come to visit. She wept. She was angry and confused. Why had there been an April Fool’s Day parade? She gave the cat treats because she felt guilty for crying in front of him like that.
Despite her warnings that she would be poor company in her current condition, her family had insisted on visiting for Easter. The would bring a ham and do her laundry for her. What did she want to eat with the ham? Despite her current condition, she had spent the previous day cleaning her apartment, doing 5 loads of laundry and grocery shopping. Being broke and mental was difficult, yes, but being a proper host (or guest) remained imperative. Life was a negotiable. Providing guests with clean linens and breakfast was not.
She had lost her appetite and 15 lbs., but now faced a home full of food and thoughts of starving children. She prepared herself an elaborate breakfast: curried eggs, chicken apple sausage, toast with honey, mango smoothie and iced coffee. It tasted like rubbish. Everything tasted like rubbish lately except vanilla ice cream. It was the only thing she enjoyed eating. After breakfast, she missed the pleasant sense of weightlessness and delirium acquired on an empty stomach.
She checked her email. Perhaps they had changed their minds and would be able to come after all. Instead, she found an email from a man who was in love with her, but with whom she was not in love. She did not scorn or hate or pity or judge him. She understood his pain, and it made her sad that she had caused it. She did not know what to say to him. She wanted to make everyone’s pain go away. She cared about him, but was not in love with him. She was in love with someone else, who cared about her, but was not in love with her. She didn’t imagine. Perhaps he was, a little, yes. She decided he must be a little in love with her, but that it did not matter, as it was the kind of love that had to be created to be destroyed. She wept. She was angry and confused.
She began to write. This is what she did when she could no longer make sense of the world. As she wrote, her eyes fell upon a bandage over her wrist and the blood which had soaked through and dried. It had not been an attempt to kill herself. Perhaps it was an attempt to confirm she was still alive. Perhaps it was a temporary escape from her thoughts. Perhaps she wore her scars like tarnished family jewelry passed down from one generation to the next, worth little at auction but of sentimental value and reliable conversation pieces. She’d seen a show about a British doctor afraid of blood. She was also afraid of blood, except when appearing from an intentional slice. She imagined being a surgeon. She imagined living in a seaside village in Cornwall. She imagined that would be lovely.
She checked her email again, like her aunt had kept checking the morgue to see if her son was still dead. Another email from another fellow. She thought she should write a self-help book for lonely women, a manual detailing how to attract men by being insane and broke. She’d developed a collection of suitors over the years. At first, their persistence terrified her, and she suspected them of being predators, or worse, vultures. But their broken hearts, their desperate gifts, their confessional emails sent from airport bars made them all more real to her, and therefore more impossible to dismiss. She wished everyone were so real and vulnerable and impossible to dismiss. Why did the world encourage us to be robots? We have robots for robots now. Why had their invention not given humanity the freedom to be more human? Why have we agreed to compete with robots on their terms?
It was turning into one angering and confusing day.
As she wrote, the cat rested his little cat face upon her foot, fell asleep and began to dream. The twitching of his whiskers tickled her foot, and she concentrated on remaining motionless in order not to wake the cat. She remembered how a few nights ago she had accidentally had one of his dreams. They were asleep back to back. She dreamt a lot of birds of different types had gathered on a tree branch outside her apartment and were tormenting her. A squirrel joined them, and she became very agitated. Then in her dream she thought, “wait, why am I having this dream? This is a cat’s dream.” She opened her eyes turned her head opposite and found the cat thrashing and huffing in the throes of a dream. She wasn’t sure how she’d gotten in or out of another creature’s subconscious, but was relieved that the upsetting experience was over. Folie a deux. Shared delusion. Somehow she could achieve this with a feline and a psychologist, but having a shared reality with anyone eluded her.
She began to pay partial attention to an opera on tv as she wrote. She decided that not much differentiated the 18th Century Italian librettist and the 21st Century reality show writer. A vastly unequal amount of talent was dedicated to the staging of each genre, but people acting foolishly-wise, they were rather on par with one another. She thought about how art and fantasy are both outlets and prisons for emotion. One may act on one’s emotions in an opera and be noble or prototypical or at worst a romantic, but in reality doing so is thought childish. She imagined the knickered, philandering rake in the opera realizing the error of his ways and entering therapy. That would suck as an opera. She thought she should end her tedious therapy and seduce her psychologist. She watched as Don Giovanni is engulfed in hell-fire. Or not.
She sits in a clean apartment, with a full stomach and a cat curled up at her feet, listening to Mozart, reading love letters. She tries not to weep although she is angry, confused and feels herself a fool.