Day One (Again) of the Rest of America

I never slept that night, or the night after. I listened to the screaming outside slowly turn into…. nothing. Not exactly nothing. The quiet thumps and taps of feet, snuffles outside the door. Hunger like my own but…different. Even when I couldn’t hear them I imagined that I could. I wondered if any of them were my friends. Henry coming back from the grocery store, or. Not coming back, per se. I didn’t dare move. I tried to stay completely still, make no  sound whatsoever. When I had to, I pissed in an empty milk jug; when I had to I shat in the bathroom, but I didn’t dare flush. I closed the door. I breathed quietly. I imagined myself brave, going out in search of Henry, a backpack, no a rucksack with supplies, I would strap a big knife, the filet knife, to my thigh or my hip or—just carry it, maybe. I thought about all the things that I would put inside the rucksack but. I didn’t want to rattle the battery drawer looking for the flashlight. I didn’t want to climb up on that ladder, get the backpack for hiking we never used, lug it down, drop it maybe it was so heavy filled to the brim with other stuff we don’t actually use, empty it out, try to fill it up, make some big mess only to realize: we don’t actually have anything useful to put in there. Survival gear? Maybe some stale Saltines and some toilet paper. I imagined Henry coming back, over and over, knocking softly, so softly saying words only he would say, it’s really me, bumbee, but shhh, don’t wake the baby not that he’d have to tell me but I wouldn’t mind, not if he came back. I stayed so still, listening for that quiet knock. Finally I slept. After that, I stopped listening so hard.

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