I don’t know if any of you know, but I am in my senior year of college. I’m working toward my BA in English- Creative Writing. Of course, me being the over achiever I am, I’m planning on going straight into an MFA program when I’m done in the Fall. Anyway, I am taking an Art of Fiction class and my professor is work shopping one of my short stories. We are working on How To short stories in the vein of Lorrie Moore and Junot Diaz. This is My Version of an How To….
When the alarm goes off at six fifteen in the morning, you get up turn it off. Instead of starting your day, you turn on the morning news and doze until the kid’s alarm goes off in the next room at six twenty-five. When the kid doesn’t get up to turn it off, you get up, go into the room, turn off the alarm, turn on the light and tell the kid to get out of bed. You go back to your room and sit on the edge of the bed stretching your sore back. Ten minutes later you yell for said kid, to get out of bed. Two minutes later, watch as grumpy kid slumps into bathroom mumbling under her breath. You yell for her to brush her teeth, but you aren’t sure if she heard or is simply ignoring you. You finally get up and make your way into your own bathroom to get yourself together. As you brush your teeth, you wander into the kitchen to start coffee and make sure the kid is actually getting dressed. You find the kid staring at the television and when you tell her to get dressed, she mumbles that she is dressed, even though she’s wearing nothing but socks and a uniform shirt. You remind her that you CAN SEE HER.
You wash your face, comb your hair, moisturize and get dressed as the local news goes off and the national news begins. Then you go into the living room, only to find kid, sitting on the sofa still in socks and shirt and oddly enough shoes and yell once again for the kid to get dressed. She does so quickly as you stand watching as you pour your coffee and gather your things. You ask if she’s brushed her teeth (9 times out of 10 she has not) and if she’s taken her pill. She will take the pill while you watch then go into the bathroom where she may or may not actually brush her teeth. You yell for her to actually swallow said pill because you will check to make sure she has not spit it out. She does this on days she is particularly cranky.
You brush her hair, because even at 11 years old, her hair is too thick and curly for her to manage so you do it to save time. Once you are done, you tell her to get her things as she is standing looking at nothing in particular. She stares, then blinks and goes into her room. Does she have her ID? She returns to the room. Does she have her key? She returns to her room. Does she have her homework? She returns to her room.
You go to the car and start the engine and wait. She finally emerges from the house and you ask if she’s locked the front door. She gets out and goes back to check, then returns to the car. She climbs into the back seat and buckles her seat belt but neglects to close the door. When she finally does you drive the block to her bus stop and drop her off with the other kids. You continue on to work, usually ten minutes later than you intended and pray she has her key, homework and ID.