Wednesday, January 10, 2007

740 days, 8 hours, 26 minutes, 50 seconds

Everything's going wrong today. First her alarm clock set wrong. And now the fire. Smoke, rather. Where there's smoke there's fire. She waits. True, she started this with a fake log, and the instructions say not to mix it with wood, but she did this the other day, and it was fine. There's smoke all over now. And the smoke alarm doesn't go off. She tries opening the damper, sits in the kitchen and watches smoke go up the chimney. She closes the damper a bit, lets more air in from the front. Still nothing but smoke. The whole house filling now. And the smoke alarm leaning back on its haunches, dozing. She adds yet another log, a small one with lots of bark on it. She kneels in front of the fire, using the bellows. Faster and faster and faster. Her husband gave her these bellows as a Christmas gift years ago. Then, all of a sudden, everything catches at once, the flames bursting forth like the fires she's seen only in movies. Right at face level. She closes the door, quick. Stands up. Turns down the damper. There's smoke all over the room now, drifting into her study, probably gunking up this computer. She ought to open a window. Two days ago she ignored the smoke alarm.

740 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 24 seconds

"It's putting itself on display," a friend said the first time she looked through the little glass door of the microwave, watching the food turn. Today she watches a frozen block of onion soup melting into the bowl, at first nothing, then slowly sinking in, crookedly, leaning to one edge, the cheese holding its own at the top. Hungry, she munches a cookie while she's watching. Backwards, she knows. And there are croutons she didn't expect in there.