“I’m not going out there.”
That’s what he said, so I got supplies together and made a meal with what was left. It looked interesting… perfectly seared steak and a new age salad. The salad was composed of bananas, chickpeas, and minced dandelion flower (for colour). He did not like it.
“I can’t eat this.” He spit the forkful of salad onto his plate. “What a waste of a banana,” he said.
The sun beamed through the window like a spotlight, illuminating dancing, fluttering dust specks. We ate early these days, to conserve electricity. I had suggested dinner by candlelight instead, but he snorted. We ate at five o’clock. It had to be right at five, since he discovered a rigid routine was soothing to him in these stressful times. He rose at seven, took Nancy for a walk, sat down to breakfast at eight, read email and the news online an until his light lunch was served at noon. In the afternoon he liked to watch legacy sports, football mostly, and nap. Another walk with Nancy took place before his dinner, the contents of which were starting to disturb his equillibrium.
“I can’t work like this,” he said after dinner. He wrote in the evenings, parked in front of the computer screen in the spare bedroom, set up as his office.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, against my better judgement.
“I’m hungry, for starters,” he said. “And this house is a mess. You know dust bothers me. I need peace and order. You know that. Did you clip Nancy’s nails?”
“Not unless you found the clippers,” I said boldly.
“Do I have to do everything around here?” he asked. He stood and came to me, standing in the doorway with a plate of dried apple and a cup of tea, his evening snack. He took the apple and the tea and closed the door.
“I need my privacy,” he often said.
I turned on the television and grabbed my stack of handkerchiefs. The sewing machine was broken, so I stitched all the masks by hand. It was time-consuming. He liked to have several in rotation, and he liked to give extra to his friends outside. So I sewed extra ones.
The TV show was about a young woman living in a strict, Orthodox religious community, where her marriage was arranged and her duties clear and inalienable. I envied her. Then she gave it all up to run away to Berlin and study music.
The world had gone mad.
But I, sat there in the sagging armchair with my stack of white cotton handkerchiefs, had not gone mad.
I put on a newly sewn mask, got a sweater, picked up the car keys and Nancy, and walked out to the old Saab.
It took all night to drive there. I had forgotten what salt air smelled like, and forgotten the sweet bitterness of a fresh lemon.
I pictured him at 8:45 in the morning, having foraged his breakfast, annoyed, opening his email program and finding my letter.
“Fuck off,” it said.