1. Drop off the dry cleaning.
2. Feed the fish.
3. Pick up milk.
4. Take antidepressants.
Today’s list only had one item on it –
1. Kill myself.
Meg was finished with lists. Which in Meg’s mind meant she was finished with life. Many days, and many lists had gone by for Meg to finally get to this point. In fact, for months now, she had had two lists on the go. The whiteboard list for everyone to see, and the secret list for her eyes only.
1. Take car in for oil change.
2. Ask Barb to clean the basement.
3. Pick up milk.
4. Mow the lawn.
Locked Drawer List
1. Update will.
2. Recheck points on fast acting poisons.
3. Pack away clothes, and mark boxes as “Goodwill”.
And now, after months of preparation she was ready. It was November 30th, D-Day, so to speak. It had to be today. Tomorrow was the beginning of December and she didn’t want Josh to think about December as anything but something to look forward to after she was gone.
He was still young. Young enough to find a new wife. To start a new family. Her heart skipped a beat when she thought about that. Her hands clenched and her step faltered and she looked down the hall at all the pictures still turned to the wall. She closed her eyes and took a steadying breath. Then another. A technique she had learned the first day in grief counselling class. A class she had quit only a day after she had started.
Ha! She didn’t need counselling on grief; she had buckets to spare.
Today she did not need the alarm to wake up. Her mind was as clear and crisp as a winter’s star filled night. Josh had been ecstatic when he rose to his favourite breakfast cooking and a fresh pot of coffee brewing. He had teased her and held her tight, kissing her on the neck until she giggled. A pang of guilt flashed through her as she remembered seeing his face relax. Although permanent lines now marred his brow.
“So did you reconsider?” he had asked. They had talked about her returning to work last night, and as usual she had been noncommittal and evasive.
As soon as he was out the door Meg pulled out her “floaty” floral summer dress and laid it on the bed. Then she ran herself a hot bath and sank into it with a sigh. She lay still listening to the chords of Bach playing somewhere in the background while floating in her cocoon of Epsom salts and rose scented water. Finally, sighing, she dried herself and dressed carefully. On a whim she decided to do her makeup, something she hadn’t done in over a year. When she was done she inspected her face in the mirror and was satisfied. She didn’t look broken.
On the table were two letters. The shortest was a one page note, addressed to Barb, her long time cleaning lady, instructing her to call the ambulance before calling Josh. The other was a hundred and fifty page letter addressed to him. She laughed at the thought; she had written a novella as a suicide note. She placed it on the mantel in the front room and then on another whim started a small fire to take the chill out of the air in the unused room.
Lunch, her final meal, would be a grilled cheese sandwich on rye and a bowl of tomato soup. Her favourite meal. Then it was just a matter of popping two small pills…
The doorbell jarred her from her reverie as she took the first bite of her sandwich. Who in the world could that be? She sat still, holding her breath. Just as she thought that the caller had gone the doorbell chimed again.
When she opened the door her hand flew to her chest, a small waif-like boy with large brown eyes stood on the stoop. He took a hesitant step backward when he looked up into her eyes. They stared at each other for a long time. Finally she shivered as a gust of icy air wrapped tendrils around her exposed skin in her barely there summer dress. “Can…can I help you?” she asked.
The boy ducked his head for a second, but just as she was about to ask him again he looked back up. “I was wondering if you wanted me to shovel your driveway?” he asked. She blinked at him. “For pay,” he said. “Not for free.”
“You’re awfully small to be shoveling driveways,” she said.
He pulled himself up to stand as tall as possible. “I can do it,” he said, his eyes sparking fire.
Meg looked out passed him to the drive. It was getting a little deep. And if Barb couldn’t get in…? “Okay,” she said. “How much?” She only had a few dollars in the house.
A big grin broke across his features. Suddenly he looked even younger and smaller than when she had first opened the door. “Is five dollars okay?”
“Five dollars seems kind of low,” she said. “How about fifteen?”
“Fifteen dollars,” he exclaimed. “You bet.” Then his face fell a little. “I was wondering,” he said, hesitating. “If it was okay if my sister waited in your porch. She’s kind of cold and little. She’ll be good.” He spoke hurriedly watching the emotions play across Meg’s face. That was when Meg noticed an even smaller body standing just behind the boy.
“She can’t wait in the porch,” Meg said.
His mouth turned down a bit. “That’s okay,” he said. “She can just walk around to keep warm.”
“What I meant,” Meg said. “Was that she can’t wait in the porch because it isn’t heated. She can come in the house and wait here.” Wait in the house? What the hell was she saying? She didn’t want a strange little girl in her house.
The boy grinned again. “She’ll be good,” he said. He turned to his sister. “You be good, and don’t do nothin. K?”
The little girl shook her head.
“Quick, inside,” Meg beckoned. “I’m freezing standing here.” She looked around at the empty street before closing the door.
As she walked into the house she thought –
1. Figure out what the hell I’m thinking.
2. Feed this poor kid something she looks half-starved.
3. Check to see if I have milk?
Photo by Swiv On Flickr – Some Rights Reserved