Chinese Food

Michael lay in his bed with his extra pillow covering his eyes, but leaving his nose in the open air, a delicate balance. He was trying not to wake up, but his stomach growled like a caged beast. He was so hungry that it hurt. He’d been dreaming of eating Chinese food, usually his least favorite thing, and he’d woken up ravenous.

He lay listening to his stomach and plotted out the day. He contemplated lunch at the Chinese food restaurant around the corner. He hoped his wife wouldn’t find out. She was always after him to eat there, but he re-directed the conversation to Italian food. He added a stop at the ATM to his list of destinations. No harm in paying by cash!

He wondered if there were anything else he should add to the list. Vacuum repair? Oil change? Dry cleaning pick up? He turned onto his side to squint at the clock and realized the whole plan was simply a way to get out of writing.

“Oh hell,” he said, rolling himself out of bed and walked across the hall.

“I suppose this project will write itself. Is that the plan, Michael?” he asked the bathroom mirror.

He padded to the kitchen and put the coffee water on the stove. He clicked the burner on and caused a small gas explosion. Every day explosions, he thought. How nice.

He looked up to see a raven perched on the garage roof outside the kitchen window. The feathers around its neck were puffed up and tinged with orange. The bird looked into the kitchen, clucking and gurgling as if it were trying to speak.

Age Appropriate

She sat on the leather chair across the room from her husband’s rented hospital bed. Looking at him sleeping, she sighed. He was home so he’d be comfortable in familiar surroundings. It’s too bad no one considered my comfort, Janice thought.

She and Tom had been married for 23 years—both of their second marriages. Well, it was her third, but the first one didn’t count because no on knew about it.

Tom was an adequate provider and their house was big enough that they could circle in their own orbits, intersecting in moments, briefly enjoyed or endured, depending.

Because Tom was sick, the care of his little dogs Mitzi and Mopsy had fallen to her. Regardless, they hovered near him, always with one eye on Tom. Janice could hardly convince them to go outside to do their business. When Tom was up and about, they ran to him frisking and tumbling every morning. He never had to ask them twice to go outside, even if the weather were horrible. Here she had been feeding and walking them for weeks, but still their enthusiasm was muted.

She’d begun to feel it was time those creatures began to share some of their devotion with her. After all, it was she who fed them, took them to the groomer, tossed that horrible spitty ball when they set it down on her slippers, picked up their feces—she paused here to shudder—yes, those girls really ought to be a little more affectionate to her.

She began to buy special treats for them, requiring that they jump onto her lap to get them. She spent hours one week coaxing them to her lap before the little knuckleheads figured out the game. She’d had a similar experience when she used the treats to get them to go on walks with her. As near as Janice could tell, they loved the treats, but tolerated her.

One morning an idea came to her when she was applying her moisturizer. Maybe the way to make the dogs love her was to actually become their treat! She hurried to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and pulled out a stick of butter. She rubbed the stick over her face and hands . She lay down on the floor and waited for the dogs to find her.