It’s been a long week. I worked 6.5 days already, and tomorrow will entail more work. I managed to come home and get myself up on the treadmill for a simple mile walk, the whole time watching the clock because I’m afraid of my neighbor, J, who once came up and pounded on my door for several minutes months ago because I was jogging. I didn’t answer the door, but since then I have only run on my treadmill a couple of times, and only in the middle of the day. About a month after that, J threatened my friend with a gun.
At any rate, I did the walk and decided to start the cookies that require overnight refrigeration – the butter has been out of my fridge for several days, waiting to be creamed into a delicious treat that I will send my mom. I’m listening to a book on Hoopla to keep me company. I get the butter and sugar creamed for the first batch when I remember I haven’t eaten any dinner. It’s 10:15 pm.
I make a salad, but when I look at it in the bowl, I can’t eat it. I switch gears and make myself a fritatta, with zucchini and carrots and red peppers. Before I can sit down to eat, though, the neighbors start up, loud thuds coming through the floor to accompany her shrill accusations, his dull, bass threats. I turn everything off and stand still near the heat vent. I listen.
She’s screaming that she gives him all her money, and he is answering, Bitch, you OWE me! She starts repeating something, over and over and I stand, listening. Is this the right time? Do I make the call? She tells him she’s leaving and he says Get out. Their voices fade and I move to follow them, but that’s it, it seems to be over. I go back to the kitchen, to my now cold fritatta.
I eat a few bites and the floor shudders as if someone has dropped a heavy bookcase. I’m on my feet again, moving softly across my creaky floors trying to find a place where I can hear what’s happening. I’m especially listening for their daughter. Silence. I finish my eggs, barely tasting them and go back to finish with the cookies. The yelling starts again as I am chopping up the pecans, and I pause again. I consider wrapping everything in saran wrap and putting it away till tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a better day.
Then I realize I don’t have saran wrap and that tomorrow will be a full day, too. They quiet. I move back to the mixer and finish the first batch, rolling it into wax paper – the smell transports me to some Christmas a long time ago, a time when a cookie could sooth every desire. I start the second batch, and when I pause the mixer I hear them yelling again. I turn the mixer back on, high. I finish the second batch and roll it up. I put all three rolls into a ziploc and put them in the fridge, for a moment, satisfied with my work.
Now they are yelling in the stairwell, her curses echoing up to my door. I stand at the door, with my hand to the wood, wondering if I can open it, call out to her. Then she leaves, pounding down the stairs, slamming the gate so hard I feel the vibration under my hand. It’s over, I think. For tonight, anyway. it’s over.