Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French

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Suddenly, she felt almost homesick and could barely comprehend the instinct that had brought her here.

<Pretend it’s Sunday. That’s when I wrote this. I didn’t mean to actually wait for Wednesday, but that seems to be what happened…>

Usually I do the grocery shopping on Sundays, but some weekends it occurs to me—what if I just didn’t? What if I skipped the grocery trip this weekend? What’s really at stake?

Because sometimes, I simply can’t face it. The getting into the car, the search for meaning across several radio stations, the shininess of the polished peppers and ripe fruit, the people crammed into crowded aisles like cattle on the way to a messy end, the often incompetent checkout person who moves slowly enough you’d think they were adding the long column of numbers by hand. The traffic, the fleeting views of orange foliage over blue lakes that do nothing to raise my spirits, framed as they are by tedious obligation.

So, I’m going to skip it today.

The children are dismayed that there are no cookies in the house. The cats are justifiably upset because there isn’t any cat food, either. But they got a bowl full of Campbell’s chicken soup this morning, so really, they have no complaint. Dinner? I think we have rice. And maybe a kielbasa. There’s a whole bag of apples from last weekend’s trip to the orchard. I’m sure there’s a half loaf of bread for tomorrow’s school sandwiches. We aren’t going to starve. We aren’t even going to feel peckish.

Where does this drive come from, to refill cupboards before they are bare, to purchase mounds of groceries before there is any danger of going hungry?

Yesterday I didn’t eat anything until dinner time. I didn’t plan it that way. There was L’s guitar lesson, there was a birthday party at a roller skating rink, there were arguments and moments of irrational fury and despair. A meal just kept not happening, even as I fed kids and poured yet another cup of coffee for myself in a futile attempt to get warm on a cold, rainy day. So, dinner. I chose Chinese from the takeout place next town over. Nothing I haven’t had hundreds of times. But after a day of self neglect, it was especially good.

And this morning I had the rest of it for breakfast.

I’ve heard other people, mostly mothers, describe cooking meals for their families as an act of love, and maybe sometimes it’s that for me. But rarely. Mostly it’s a chore on a long list of chores.

I just noticed our cat hunting in the backyard. I can see her from my window. Life would be easier as a cat. You’re hungry, you hunt down a small rodent and eat it. There’s no prep work, preheating, or cleanup. I’d like that way of eating. I think I could get used to the flavors.

Yesterday I didn’t even have a piece of cake at the birthday party. I knew how it would make me feel, all that sugar on an empty stomach. Instead, I went back onto the roller skating floor. I hadn’t meant to roller skate. I was going to bring B, help him tie his skates, and then flee for the library. But he’s still nervous about being left with people he doesn’t know well, so I stayed. And standing on the sidelines watching people go around and around got boring very quickly, so I rented my own skates and joined the throng of seven-year-olds falling over themselves on the floor. We had a blast. And the irrational fury and despair dissipated in the air amid synthesized drumbeats, leaving only the idea that maybe every weekend, instead of grocery shopping, I’ll slip off to the roller skating rink, where there are no shiny fruit and the checkout people are all fast and awake.

 

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