This week you get at least three short stories a day, a Wednesday Word, and an interview-hooray.
New York, New York-it’s a hell of a town
Good morning Cleo! Where are you? I see the light, but not her. I turn the corner and see Cleo at the conference room desk. There you are! Oh my gosh so in my dream last night. Well I had four. First I got robbed. I know this happened because my mom sent me this article right before bed about this car jacking and in my dream I was in my car. My old car. Well, my old, old car I guess. It was a Mazda. And-
Hold on. Robin, I don’t want to scare you.
There’s a mouse over there.
My heart dropped. Where?
Behind my desk. That’s why I’m over here.
Shit. I thought you were organizing papers.
I am, but because of the mouse. It’s on the sticky trap.
Okay what are we going to do?
We’re not going to do anything. I thought you were only afraid of spiders! You said that last week.
Spiders the most. And then crocodiles and mice and knives and crabs.
They look like spiders.
They do. It’s a recent fear. Think about it. They-
I hate mice. I told you about the time I moved out of my room in Boston.
Yea, you did. Okay I’ll get it for you. My sister and I always talk about respecting fears. If there is a spider, she kills it for me. If there is a dog, I’ll walk in front of her. I’ll pick up the mouse Cleo.
Yes. And I read a book about the lost boys of Sudan. You know the one I told you about?
I promised myself I would never be afraid again. I would try my hardest not to be. It’s just a mouse. This is our biggest fear. A silly little mouse.
Okay here I go.
What color was it?
Grey. Why does that matter?
My friend’s boyfriend saw a black one with red eyes once.
This one looks like a cat toy, but it’s just real.
Was it moving?
Why are you screaming?
Why are you screaming?
I just pictured it falling on me. Is the tail long?
Robin! It’s not a rat. It’s a mouse.
Fine, here I go. Get me some gloves.
We don’t have any.
What about the book you read?
I know, but now I’m scared it’s going to scream.
Mice don’t scream.
I’ve heard one scream before. What time is Lilly coming?
We’re not going to make Lilly get the mouse.
I know, but she’ll have gloves. Okay want to hear a mouse joke? Disney World: a human trap operated by a mouse!
Cleo does not laugh. Ten minutes go by. We talk about the difference between mice and rats. Spiders and crabs. The doorbell rings and we both jump. Lilly walks in.
Lilly, whatever you do. Don’t look behind Cleo’s desk. There’s a mouse.
I will get him.
You don’t have to do that. I say this without moving to help. Can I borrow your gloves though?
I will get him. It’s my job.
It is not your job to pick up mice! I say this loudly, angrily and with passion. Then I decide it’s not my job either.
Dammit, where is the super?
Lilly continues.I picked up one with my bare hands once. It was in the garbage disposal. I thought it was hair clogging the drain, but then I saw the eyes.
After that story we silently agreed that Lilly was the bravest. She got a hanger, picked up the sticky trap and threw away the mouse like he was a piece of used paper. Our boss walked in and was unmoved.
“I was thinking it had been a while since we’d seen one.”
Y’all aren’t going to believe me, but my second dream was about a mouse. I had a dream my roommate’s boyfriend, Matt and I were chasing a mouse. Then the mouse started talking to us telling us foods he liked and didn’t like. He said he didn’t like grits or jelly or Coke. I was going to tell Cleo that after the car jacking dream.
Interesting. So you had a premonition?
No, I just think about mice a lot I guess.
And then everyone went to their desks and checked their emails as if nothing had ever happened.
You’re So Young
“That’s a beautiful purse,” I said to the woman next to me. “The color is electric. I like that blue a lot.”
It’s interesting how complimenting a thing is indirectly complimenting a person. I guess if Ralph Lauren isn’t available then the consumer gets the credit. “I like your hat.” “Thanks,” I replied. I’ve also found that it’s really hard to give a compliment without getting one back. “I got the purse in Macy’s. We have a Macy’s back home, but it looks more like a general store next to the one here.” “Are you here for business?””Yes and for fun. My friend used to come with me, but she just got married. She met him online. I would never do anything like that, but then again I don’t need a man in the way she did.”
“What do you mean in the way she did?”
“Well, we’re both divorced. I haven’t been married in twenty years, but I have a good job so I don’t need anyone. She works at the bank and I think she wanted more security. More benefits.”
“But the man. The man she met online. Is he a good person?”
“Oh yea he’s great. I don’t think she loved him at first, but she grew to love him very much.”
“I always hated that phrase, but the older I get I think I understand.”
“Grew to love.”
“I just mean he treats her right. He’s a good man.”
“Oh I know I just hate that she had to grow to love him. Why couldn’t she just love him? I don’t want to grow on anybody.”
She turned to her side as if she needed to get a better look at the person she was talking to. She smiled. “You’re so young.”
It may have been insulting had she not looked at me affectionately. “You know I got my granddaughter one of those Louis Vuitton bags.” She said Louis Vuitton in what seemed to be her best french accent. “She didn’t like it at first, but now she does.”
I was thinking she just proved my point. Purses grow on people, husbands should not. Instead I heard my voice say, “Oh that was very nice of you!” “Yes it sure was and I told her it’s the last one she’ll ever get. From me at least! But she’s such a good child. One of those special kids who really has a good head on her shoulders.” I realize that I’ve never heard a grandparent say their grandchild wasn’t special. “I’m sure she is!” “But my other daughter lost her child. She was six years old.” She was speaking so low and I couldn’t tell if she said six weeks or six years, but it didn’t matter. I gave my condolences. “Yes and very hard on her and her husband. They divorced after that.” “I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been and must still be.” “She’s engaged now. To a wonderful man.” “Congratulations! That’s great news.”
“What about you? Any men in your life?” “Oh no, not really. I have a crush, but that’s it.” “You should tell the fellow.” “I might. Any men in your life?” “No, no. My ex husband was abusive.” I thought about her marriage twenty years ago and how she brought it up today and it made me hate a man I’d never met. I didn’t even know her. “Oh my God, I am very sorry to hear that. Good for you for leaving, I know it must have been a struggle.” “Yea, it’s crazy how the worst thing that you could ever imagine ends up being your life. You know?” “Yea I know.” But I didn’t know. “It was nice meeting you. I hope you tell the guy you like him. If not, you should go online. Like my friend Jackie.”
Praying on a Daffodil
If you bring three of those daffodils over here then we can blow on them and make a wish. I’ll have one wish, you can have two.
Emma grabbed three daffodils and brought them over to our picnic. She held one at the top, crushing the petals, so we ended up each getting only one. I closed my eyes and made a wish.
I prayed for a cat.
You wished for a cat.
No, I prayed for it.
No M&M, you don’t pray on daffodils, you wish.
What’s the difference between a wish and a prayer?
What are they teaching you in Catholic school?
It was an adult joke. A wish is something that may not happen. A prayer, as you know, is saying thanks to God or maybe you want to ask Him for something. Like when you go to church, you don’t make a wish do you?
No, you pray at church.
I wish I didn’t have to dress up though or that it wouldn’t take so long.
Yea, but in the church you are praying to God not wishing. You wish at your birthday right?
Yea, but I got what I wanted for my birthday.
Well yes because you were good that year and we were celebrating that.
But you said wishes may not happen.
Well they might, they might not.
Do prayers always happen if you’re really reaaaaaaally good?
I wish it worked like that, but no.
Then I’ll just make wishes.
Well no, not if you’re asking for things, but when I pray I am usually saying thank you or praying for others or asking for things that aren’t tangible. Do you get it? Remember when we prayed for your neighbors the other night?
Things like patience and strength and peace. I pray for those things.
Why would you want that?
Emma! Why would you want a cat?
They are so cute Robsy.
Okay well bring me another daffodil and I will wish for you a cat.
Emma returns with two daffodils
Here. We can pray on this one and wish on that one. Then maybe I’ll get a cat and you can get peace.