by Brittany McSorley
I wake up, again. As my alarm chirps, I beg my bedroom’s blackout curtains to keep everything at bay for just a few more minutes, but they have done all they can. Another day has begun. The cat, my one true love, hops gently onto the bed, emits a meow-scream hybrid, and immediately sneezes on my face. I forgive her at once.
While this is the first time I will leave bed today, it is the fifth time I have woken up, because I have chosen to live with someone who is not a woman yet still somehow needs to pee roughly every 90 minutes. The creak of the floorboards as he uselessly tries to tiptoe to the bathroom is as familiar to me as the cage that is this apartment.
I watch with glazed eyes as the coffee drips steadily into its pot, and he tells me he has already taken care of the cat’s morning needs. Her food and water have been replenished, he says, and her litter box cleaned. I nod suspiciously at this news. Surely, he wants me to owe him something, but I will not be manipulated.
I go running, again. I pass several men who have bravely carried on with their disgusting leering despite a global emergency. Beneath my mask, I mouth horrible things to them, which helps. If they knew how many true crime podcasts I have digested during cardio, how much knowledge I have secreted away about the failings of the American justice system, they would realize how ready, how willing I am to throat-punch them at the first sign of trouble, and they would think twice about their objectification. But I make it home without getting to strike a single one of them. Disappointment is truly constant these days.
Back in the apartment, I work in one room while he Zooms in another. During breaks, he says reassuring things to me and strokes my hair. I allow it, but mostly focus on the cat and telling her that she is my wife and I will never leave her and would she like some smoked salmon. She would. She is a good girl.
At 6:00 pm, I allow myself the first of two crucial glasses of wine. We settle down on the couch and try desperately not to calculate how many hours of television we have consumed since this disaster began. If I am feeling only a little hopeless, we watch Gilmore Girls; if I am consumed by dread, we watch The Fall, because the systematic solving of violent crimes by women who do not suffer fools floods my system with serotonin. Sometimes, I wonder if I should ask what he might like to watch, but then I remember the leering. He is still one of them, no matter how many times he makes dinner.
Between 7:30 and 7:45 pm, I try very hard not to get myself a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. At 7:46, I get myself a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. If we have run out of either of these items, I threaten to set a fire. Apart from the cat and the fantasies about harming men in the street, the cookies and milk are my only comfort. They will see me through this trauma until the next horrifying thing happens, which better not be a cookie or milk shortage.
Before I go to sleep, he holds me and asks if I need anything. Typical. As I drift off, I realize I do not know what day it is. Maybe that’s for the best. Time is a social construct, after all, and any day is a good day to curse a creepy guy under your breath.