I want so desperately to sleep but I can’t! Dave’s snoring and his hot breath on
the back of my neck doesn’t help. It’s been a rough week. I can’t get the
televised images of the funeral procession out of my mind. I get up and take one
of the Valium prescribed by Dr. McCarthy and return to bed. I lie staring into the
My eyelids are heavy as I peer across the sunlit room at the clock on the dresser.
Oh my God! It’s quarter to nine! I’ve slept in and now the kids are going to be
late for school! I notice Dave heading out of our bedroom.
“Dave! Why did you let me sleep so long?”
“ Sorry, dear, I slept in, too! Gotta rush, I have a meeting with Mr. Dixon.”
“But we’ve missed the school bus! Can’t you at least drive the kids to school on
“No! I’m LATE! Drive them in the Volkswagon!”
“ You know how temperamental that thing is! PLEASE, Dave!”
“ NO! I SAID I have to go! Work it out yourself! My job is more important than
your little problems!”
Rushing into Cassie’s room, I see my daughter, clad in her pajamas, calmly
brushing her doll’s hair.
“ Cassie! Mommy slept in! You have to get yourself dressed quickly while I get
breakfast ready! ”
“ No, Mommy. Sheila wants me to make her pretty!”
“ I don’t care what Sheila wants … get dressed NOW!
Trenton’s room is empty and I am relieved to find him fully clothed and watching
cartoons on the television set in the living room. I pour Cheerios and milk into
three bowls, let Chester out to pee and scoop kibble into his dish. Behind me, I
hear Cassie’s whine.
“ Mommy! Me and Sheila want pancakes for breakfast!”
“There’s no time! Sit down and eat!”
“We want PANCAKES!” Cassie picks up her bowl and hurls it to the floor. Shards
of glass, cereal and milk are everywhere but what’s worse, there’s a hairline
crack in the ceramic tile.
“Look, Mom! The crack is in the shape of a “Y” just like the first letter of our last
name!” Trenton says gleefully.
“I don’t think that Daddy will find it very amusing!” I retort, glaring at Cassie.
I bundle the kids up and pile them into the car. I cross my fingers that the cranky
old thing will start. But no, of course not, it sputters, coughs and then dies.
“ Okay, kids, we’re going to have to walk to school! Let’s MOVE it!”
“ Walk? We can’t WALK to school!”
“ Oh yes we can. I walked to school every day of my life and a lot further than
six blocks. Now hurry up! Let’s go!”
As we walk up the sidewalk, the principal, Mr. Connors, is standing on the school
steps with his arms folded across his chest.
“ Mrs. Young, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that tardiness is
not a desirable example to set for your children.”
“ I’m so sorry, Mr. Connors, my alarm failed to go off. It won’t happen again.”
I kiss the children goodbye on the top of their heads and turn around to head
back home. Dark clouds are gathering and I’m going to have to hurry to make it
back before the downpour. My legs feel unusually sluggish and my body aches all
over. It must be the remnants of the Valium.
I mull over what I’m going to talk about with Dr. McCarthy at my session this
afternoon. I must admit that he has been very helpful. I was in a pretty bad way
after I lost the baby. I had been doing really well up until President Kennedy’s
assassination last week. I’m going to have to confess to Dr. McCarthy that I cried
hysterically for days. It’s just all so sad! John Kennedy was such a vibrant man as
well as an excellent president. And poor Jackie! She has been so stoic, and to
think that she’ll have to raise those young children without a father. I’ll tell Dr.
McCarthy that at least Jackie’s tragedy has helped me put my own life into
As I cut diagonally across our lawn, I am surprised to see so many weeds. It’s
not like Dave to let the lawn go. Damn! I can’t open the front door … I’m certain
that I didn’t lock it! The rain is starting to come down in sheets so I hurry around
to the back door. It’s locked as well. How can this be? I’m just about to head
over to Doris’s to get my spare key when I glance through the window and see
that there is a man in my house! He is standing in my kitchen, eating out of a
bowl, dressed in an undershirt and dungarees. I rap on the door and he opens it
with a quizzical look on his face.
“ Excuse me, sir, but may I ask just what the hell you are doing in my house?”
“ Lady, you maka mistake, thissa here is my house.” A piece of his breakfast is
dangling from his moustache.
I am horrified to think that in my haste to dodge the rain, I am perhaps, at a
house one block over from my own. I turn around to look at the back yard. The
trees do appear to be much larger than ours, but no, wait! This is our fence! I
can see the replacement boards from where the motorcycle crashed through it
I barge past the man and step into my kitchen. I am once again bewildered.
Where is my maple dinette suite? Where are my new avocado appliances? I’m
about to admit I am mistaken, until I look at the floor. There is the tile with the
hairline crack in it!
“Sir! This is MY house and I want you out of it RIGHT NOW!”
“ Lady. I am Andreus Stromopoulos. I buy this house when I come from my
homeland, Greece. I be here very long time now. I think maybe it should be you
“ I’m not going anywhere!” I look for the phone on the wall so that I can call
Dave at the office. It isn’t there.
“ Look. I thinka you maybe a little crazy in the head. Ima going to call to the
police. Maybe they can help you.”
“ You’re bloody right they can help me! They can help me get you out of my
He picks up a piece of plastic, the size of half a deck of cards, and speaks into it
as though it were a telephone. And he’s calling ME crazy?
“ The police are going to be here in a few minutes. You like maybe you sit
He takes me by the elbow and guides me towards the living room. As we pass a
large mirror in the hallway, I see the reflection of the man, but to my horror, he
is guiding an old woman. Her deeply etched face is surrounded by a halo of silver
hair and there is a definite hunch to her back. I put up my hand to touch my
cheek and the old woman does the same, simultaneously. I gratefully sink into a
“Lady, you maybe lika some water?”
I am too stunned to find my voice so I just shake my head. I look down at my
gnarled hands. I am wearing a heavy woolen coat and when I slide it open I see
a flowered cotton nightdress underneath. My legs are swollen with bulging blue
veins and on my feet are frayed pink bedroom slippers. Blood from my big toe is
turning one of the slippers scarlet.
The doorbell rings. The man opens the door to reveal a tall uniformed police
“Mr. Stromopoulos? I am Officer Sterling. We’ve had a report from The Shady
Rest Nursing Home about a resident who wandered away early this morning. It
fits the description of the woman that you called about. May I come in?”