Break of dawn, I am up again. At least I don’t have to be shaken awake because I’m screaming, so I am thankful for small favors. I lie in bed, wondering if I should try to sleep more or if this is one of those days where nothing can entice me back into unconsciousness. I can usually tell if I can coax an hour or two more out of my body, but today is neutral. There are none of the obvious signs either way, so I decide to give it a go. I obligingly close my eyes and start breathing deeply. I know from experience that if I do not fall asleep within twenty minutes, I will not fall asleep at all. I feel the minutes ticking away as I lie there. I squeeze my eyes shut, but it’s no use. Not more than ten minutes have passed before I know it’s going to be one of those days. I sigh and get up, shoving my feet in my slippers. I pull my robe around me and make my way to the bathroom. One of the perks about waking up at this time is I can take as long a shower as I like because no one is waiting in line.
After the shower, I go to see what I can scrounge up in the kitchen. Paris’s fabulous brunch won’t be for at least four more hours, so I will have to make do with what I find. I am one of those people who needs to fuel up the first thing in the morning or I’m dragging for the rest of the day. Not coffee, but food. Some herbal tea would be nice as well. I put the kettle on the stove, hoping I won’t forget about it. I have burned three kettles in the last month because of absentmindedness. I pop a couple slices of bread in the toaster and wait for them to toast. I rummage in the cupboards for something to put on the toast. It’s been so long since I’ve made something for myself, I don’t know what we have and what we don’t. I find some peanut butter and to my surprise, some mini-marshmallows. That reminds me of the sandwiches I made as a kid, and I do the same now. One piping hot piece of toast slathered with peanut butter; marshmallows firmly pressed into the peanut butter; I have the last-minute inspiration of adding chocolate and find an unopened bag of semi-sweet morsels, melt them and drizzle the concoction over my sandwich. Just as the chocolate is running down the sides of the sandwich, I mash the other piece of toast on top of it all. I pour myself a glass of milk and sit down to enjoy. After the first bite, however, my stomach growls in protest. It doesn’t want this combination, as tasty as it is, lodged inside it.
“Shit!” I throw the sandwich across the room, dissolving into tears. “Fuck!” The glass of milk soon follows. A stream of obscenities escape my lips, gathering a life of their own. By the time I hit full stride, I am screaming at the top of my lungs. I sit down and thump the table with my fists. I am not meant to live this way—I cannot tolerate it for much longer. I am weeping so hard, I don’t hear Paris enter the room until he is right behind me. “Careful,” I sigh wearily. “There’s glass.” I’ve broken things before so Paris isn’t too fazed by that, although Lyle looks wary. Paris silently grabs the mop and hands it to Lyle who begins cleaning up the milk. Paris grabs the sandwich, the plate (which, miraculously, hasn’t broken) and shards of glass. I watch them dispassionately, feeling a slight twinge of guilt that I am not helping. I am acutely aware that I have not been carrying my own weight for quite some time. Paris has been a saint, but it has to be grating on his nerves. He wasn’t unaffected by what happened, and yet, he has had to be the strong one. Lyle finishes mopping and places the mop back in the corner.
“Why don’t I cook something for you?” Lyle offers, turning to the stove.
“Oh, no,” I protest automatically. “It’s too much trouble.”
“No trouble at all.” Nothing I say will dissuade him, so I allow him free reign of the kitchen. I am curious to see what he’ll make and if it’ll live up to Paris’s cooking—a hard act to follow. Lyle grabs some eggs out of the fridge and gets to work. In the meantime, the kettle has boiled away to almost nothing, but there is enough left for one cup of tea. Paris throws some green tea leaves into a mug and pours the boiling water over the leaves. He knows I like loose tea leaves better than tea in a bag, especially that dreadful Lipton—which seems to be the only tea most restaurants serve.
“When does that group you’re trying out meet?” Paris asks the question casually as he sets the mug in front of me, but I can see the anxiety in his eyes.
“Tuesday,” I say softly, sipping the tea. “Tuesday night.” Paris nods, but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to; I know what he’s thinking.