Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Working Together!

My fingers hesitate, lingering uncertainly above the keys of my laptop. I bite my bottom lip and stare at the glowing screen in front of me. The blinking cursor and empty white text box sit blankly, inviting me to fill the space. I stare at the bright white rectangle, my eyes slowly drying and beginning to throb. I brush my finger tips slowly over the keys, feeling their plastic surfaces, hoping that their letters will motivate me to push downward and with a satisfying tapping, fill the gap...but I can’t.

“Have you emailed that woman yet?” My mother’s smooth voice cuts through the silence as she bustles in from outside, balancing large boxes and bags of groceries, blown in by a cold gust of wind. I lean back in my chair, rubbing my sore eyes with the back of my hands.

“Yep, so now we just wait to hear back, she’s really busy, I don’t even know if she has anymore openings, Sarah might be outta luck” I glance furtively at her, unpacking the bags, to see if she is buying it.

“I know, I know” She mutters as she putters around the kitchen, “I just think it would be so great if you two could work together!”

“Yeah...” I sigh, forcing my eyes again to the cursor on the screen, blinking away, mocking me and my lie.

Hmmm...working with my sister...

I immediately imagine three days earlier. Screaming at the top of her lungs Sarah is hurling clothes in my direction, scattering them around my feet, ripping and kicking her way through my laundry.


Be calm

The thought flits across my mind like a fragile butterfly before it is smashed by the giant force that is my rage. My face flushes as the blood pumps to my temples.


I throw my own possessions back at her, an arsenal of pencils, books, papers, shirts, pants, bras...the cat, before slamming the door shut on her crimson face.

Hmmm...working with my sister...Do I want to add cast iron frying pans to that mix?

I stare at the blank screen once again; the cursor blinks at me knowingly.
The door to the basement creaks as Sarah trots up the stairs. She skips by me happily humming a song which I probably wouldn’t like. She stops mid way between me, at the kitchen table, and the hallway leading upstairs, turns back and makes her way over.

“Whatchhhh’ya doin?” she sings at me

“Emailing Linda for you” I reply

“OH AWESOME! Now I can have money for coffee. Cookie?” she asks, extending the small stack she has grasped in her hand.

I smile, knowing these are a precious commodity, usually coveted and fought over. I take the offering.

“Thanks” I say, taking a bite.

“No probs Bobs” She calls back as she skips away down the hall.

Cookie crumbs fall haphazardly onto my keyboard. I brush them aside and being typing, the steady tap tap tap of the keys slowly filling the empty white space before me on the screen.

Hey Linda, I was just wondering if you still need a dishwasher for weekends. My sister would be very interested in the job she is hardworking and...

Thursday, November 12, 2009


“Really? I hate that stupid guy”

“No, he's SO funny. NO I can’t believe you just said that. HE IS HILARIOUS.”

“I just don’t get his humour”

I move my chin, slightly shifting the phone gripped precariously between my right shoulder and my ear. Its plastic surface groans in protest, but my hands are too preoccupied to come to its rescue.

“That’s just ‘cause you’re a girl! Girls never appreciate his kind of humour; you know
it’s like....”

I have a stick in my left hand and a fallen green leaf in my right. Absentmindedly I try to balance the leaf on the end of the stick, wrinkling my brow in frustration. The warm summer breeze gently rustles my hair, and I shift my seated position, the hard cool concrete of my front steps biting into my thighs.

“...and when he made that one joke, you know the one right? The one where that guy, the fat guy, runs up to the car...”

“I really don’t know, but you know who IS funny...”

In the background of my conversation I hear the soft sound of someone making their way down the back lane adjacent to my house. The twigs and leaves crackle and crunch under their steps. Something metallic squeaks and screeches and I glance to my left. I gaze through the gaps that puncture the hedge barricade between our yard and the lane. The front tip of an old grocery cart appears from behind the side of my house, stacked to the brim with old dirty newspapers and flyaway plastic bags.

I pause midsentence, frozen. A cold hand grips my heart, squeezing it. My breath catches in my throat making an audible gasping sound. A thin man takes up the rear of the cart, pushing its heaving mass forward. I recognize his dirty gray mop of hair and his swollen belly, protruding and out of place on his otherwise small frame. He limps forward with his signature gait.

I leap to my feet, catching the phone as it tumbles towards the concrete with Olympic like prestige. I wrench at the handle of the front door. My heart pulses at my temples, I’m being chased. Adrenaline pumps from my glands and surges through my veins as the flight instinct takes over.

A distant voice floats up from the phones receiver clamped beneath my pale fingers as I continue to wrestle with the door.

“You still there?”


The door swings inward with the magic words and I rush inside, not daring to look behind me. I hasten across the living room, my socks slipping on the hardwood floor. I rush into my room, slam the door behind me and bring the phone to my ear.

“Sorry, sorry I’m here. That guy was outside my house! That crazy guy from work! I’ve told you about him, he always has all the newspapers in his cart, asks for 10 coffee refills. THAT CRAZY GUY WAS RIGHT OUTSIDE MY HOUSE. HE TOTALLY SAW WHERE I LIVE.”

I pace around the room with quick panicky footsteps, pulling frantically at the blinds until they are securely shut, unfocused on what I’m yelling into the phone.

“What? Why does he have newspapers in his cart?” questions the calm voice on the other end.

“WHAT?! You aren’t focusing! HE IS OUTSIDE MY HOUSE, what don’t you understand! NEWSPAPERS? I don’t know, he says his job is delivering flyers or something...why is he here! WHY IS HE OUTSIDE MY HOUSE?”

“Could it be that he is, you know, delivering flyers?”

“What?” I try and bring my focus back to what the voice is saying. I stare at the gaps between my window curtains, convinced that I see the outline of a person peering in. I repeat, “WHAT?”

“Meghan calm down. Are you pacing? I’ll repeat: could it be that he is just doing his job, he's delivering flyers?”

“What? NO...Well maybe, I don’t know, but he shouldn’t be here!" My voice trails out in an annoying whine.

“I’ve seen that guy plenty of times when I’ve picked you up from work. He is just a harmless old guy doing his job. It’s not his fault he is dirty...or that he takes advantage of the free coffee refills.” His voice dips amusingly, reasoning, calm and collected, a light jab at what I had said earlier. I can hear his smile, his slowly shaking head.

“Well I didn’t...I mean obviously liking coffee doesn’t make you crazy.” I stutter, smacking the edge of my bed. “OBVIOUSLY, I mean I’m not stupid”. I run a shaking hand through my hair.

His voice stretches out from the phone, patting me on the head, reprimanding and sympathetic, “You are not stupid, but you are being dramatic. You’re being judge-y again. He is just a man who has nowhere to go and nothing to do but walk around and deliver his flyers, before heading down to the restaurant to get a cup of coffee with 10 free refills...obviously”.

“I don’t think that judge-y is a word.” I hang up the phone.

I creep my way to the window, pulling aside the curtain, slowly peering across my yard, up and down the street. I can see the man’s outline about a block down, slowly limping away, pushing the broken cart ahead of him. Despite the obvious fact that I’m in no immediate danger, I breathe a sigh of relief. Tension slowly leaks out of my muscles as shame crawls in and takes its place. Without taking my eyes off the figure down the road, I push the numbers on the phone and again hold it up to my ear waiting for the click on the receiving end. I don’t wait for a hello.

“He is gone down the street now” I whisper.

“You do understand that YOU are the crazy person stalking some poor guy as he walks down the road. I hope he didn’t see you run into the house, I mean that CAN’T be good for his self esteem.” Even on a whim his speech is smooth and cutting.

“YES, ok yes” I sigh into the phone, “I understand that I am being irrational and shouldn’t judge people just based on their appearance no matter how CRAZILY they are dressed or how their home is in a grocery cart or how they have a stomach that is ridiculously disproportionate to the rest of them OR that they order multiple cups of coffee, I know this.” The words spill out of my mouth without pauses in between them, each racing the other to get out first.

“Hmm” is the reply.

“What you don’t believe me?”

“Not really”

“Well I’m trying”

I hear his eyebrows rise on the other end of line “You should try harder”.

I push the curtain close with the resolve to not to look out again. I look at the floor, and my lips pinching together, “You aren’t perfect either.”

The voice trickles affectionately from of the end of the receiver, “Yeah, but we aren’t talking about me.”