Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Mr. Barbicane Takes A Trip" Chapter Twenty-Eight

Diana attacked her hangover with the usual combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin B, several thousand milligrams of each, and four Extra Strength Excedrin washed down with most of a bottle of room temperature Coca-Cola. She supplemented the face cloth soaked in cold water placed over her eyes with a Zip-Lock sandwich bag filled with crushed ice and balanced on her nose as she stretched out on her bed. She’d checked her bloody nose when she got out of the shower and while it looked a little swollen it didn’t look as bad as she thought it was going to look.

She spent most of the late morning and early afternoon in bed, turning over the cloth on her eyes every few minutes or so, adjusting the bag of ice and keeping it on her nose even after the ice had melted, and breathing.

In retrospect it might not have been such a good idea to stop for the bottle of vodka on the way home. In was almost certainly a mistake to pull over that one time to have more of the Stoli half way home when really, the buzz was going quite well at that moment.

But she had purchased the bottle and she had stopped on the way home and that’s just how things happen sometimes. She was suffering enough without beating herself up over a decision that was made so long ago.

Each time she lifted the cloth to flip it, to put the freshly evaporated and therefore cooler side against her eyes, she looked over at the Seusss-like alarm clock she bought at Ikea when she was furnishing the apartment. She watched the morning and then the afternoon go buy in fifteen, twenty and occasional forty minute increments.

She would have to get up at some point and try to put something in her stomach. The very thought of this tightened her throat and brought a thread of something burning into her mouth. She swallowed it down.

The process would have to begin by three o’clock. She needed to be back at the airport for the first leg of her new shift by six. Diana considered calling in sick, but there had been a run of last minute cancellations due to health on her part and she thought for the sake of appearances she better show up. She certainly didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize her job. Not now. Not when things were going so well for her and she had so much of her life together.

Outside her bedroom window children were playing in the courtyard. Happy, enthusiastic children, shrieking with energy. She wanted them all to die. She wanted them to fall down dead in mid-stride and just be quiet. She wished for the reaper to arrive and drive them into the earth so they would stop hurting her head. They didn’t know they were hurting her, but they were and that’s why their young lives needed to be cut short. “With up so floating many bells down.”

She did not sleep. She was too uncomfortable to sleep. So she studied the dark red mud behind her eyelids and listened to the hideous children playing tag or something.

Go away. Go somewhere else. Go play in traffic.

She pushed herself up in bed and reached for the glass of Coca-Cola she brought from the kitchen. She took a sip and found it was not only room temperature but flat. It tasted sweet and soothing and she remembered how her mother always gave her flat Coke when she was sick. When she was sick as a child her mother would give her flat Coke and buttered toast cut in strips with the crusts taken off. And her mother would put a scarf over the lamp on her dresser in the room where she was a child. The lamp was meant to look like an old fashioned oil lamp with a white frosted chimney over which her mother draped a red and gold scarf that aged the light and turned it into something warm and antique as it went around the room.

She drank the last of the soda and put her head back on the pillow. At three o’clock she would start putting herself together. She would go downstairs and if there was any bread in the house she would make toast, butter it, cut it in strips and trim the crusts. And, depending on how she felt, she’d check on the vodka in the back of the freezer.


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