Help Wanted

I have an awl, a fancy thing with variable punching heads.  But I can’t squeeze tight enough to use it.  I fall back on my old standby, the rubber mallet, a nail, and the chopping block my father made for me out of a ring of apple wood. My clumsy feet always want tighter buckles, so I slam the nail into the leather strap and hope for the best.  I need friends with strong hands.

My door lock sticks.  I stand on the porch and lean my head against the screen, shuddering through a jagged breath and what might be a sob.  I’ve already faced one of the many small dilemmas that pepper my days.  Carry two bags or make two trips?  I need a free hand to navigate the tricky bit of ground between the house and the pavers.  Steady as she goes, whoopsie daisy, easy does it now, you’re almost there.  Woman seeks neighbor with similar grocery-buying schedule.

The heater hums behind me.  I think about the hours between midnight and four, when I wake to the sound of critters on the metal roof.  Someone told me they might be rats.  I prefer to imagine restless birds or wayward branches tossed by the night winds.  I can’t stand the thought of dealing with rodents at this late stage of my life.  Must be good with animals.

I piled empty boxes in the back of my car, on top of the bags of clothes and sundry household items which I plan to donate.  Receipts and junk mail litter the passenger floor.  Truth told, I think three of my winter hats have gotten buried on the rear seat.  A nice lady down the way always asks if she can do anything for me.  I smile and shake my head.  I’m lying, of course; I could turn over the keys to my life, crawl in bed, and give her free rein.  Maybe she’d take away half of the dishes gathering dust on the shelves.

Christmas lights twinkle in my windows.  Like the curtains in my sleeping loft, the lights cling to  wobbly push-pins hammered into the frames.  I know there’s a real way to do everything, but I can only hold my body still for a few short minutes at a time.  In and done; pray it holds; collapse into a chair.

The bags of fruit on the refrigerator shelf will probably grow mold before I figure out how to use them.  I can’t bend to light the pilot in the stove, so the cookies which I wanted to make for Christmas remain bags of flour, salt, and sugar in the cupboard.  I live on scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, and Challenge butter.  Occasionally, I boil some gluten-free pasta and eat it with grape seed oil and fake parmesan cheese.  It’s not much of a diet, but it’s easy to cook and palatable.  No jars to force open; no vacuum-seal packets to attack with scissors.   A simple life.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Close your eyes, count to ten; and lift.

It’s the fifteenth day of the eighty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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