No Screen Door

Forty seven dollars just didn't seem right.

Michele had never bought a screen door before, but she didn't imagine it would cost forty seven dollars. It didn't exactly seem like too much, but it also didn't seem like enough. Maybe the circumstances necessitating the new door made her feel cheap, while at the same time made her feel like she should have to pay more than forty seven dollars.

***

It was Tuesday now, and Michele's house had gone three days without a front door. Sure, she could have closed the storm door, but it was overwhelmingly hot that summer, and it was the heat that had driven her into the fit that culminated with Andrea running full speed through the old screen door in the first place.

Maybe the house was better off without a front door for a while. Besides, having a big gaping hole in her house made Michele feel vulnerable. It made her feel how she felt she should feel. Nervous, guilty, and in danger.

***

Michele struggled to find the price tag while checking out, struggled to lift the door for the clerk to scan it, and then continued to struggle while pushing the big orange cart out of the hardware store. She could feel the mostly male clientele watching her. They were all wondering what she was going to do with a screen door. She knew that they knew that she didn't know how to hang it, and that no one was going to come help her.

The back left wheel of the cart spun sideways and caught the track in the floor for the automated sliding door as Michele tried wearily to get her screen door through the exit. The cart sent a thunder clap throughout the store and into the parking lot as momentum slammed the its forward wheels down to the ground.

Michele looked down at her receipt as stillness came over her. All she could see were the numbers four and seven ... pulsing ... big, then small ... big, then small.

She began to cry, slumped her shoulders, and continued pushing the cart with her brand new screen door out of the store, past the curb, and into the parking lot. Forty seven dollars just didn't seem right.

It's not my head.

"What a great evening so far, don't you think?" Erika glanced briefly at Marcel who was wiggling the cork out of a fresh bottle of California cab.

"Hooray ... I got it." He laughed. Erika smiled at him, and presented a stack of plastic cups. "I mean ... I'm just so happy that everyone could make it since we had to cancel the last few months." They headed towards the door of the small shared lounge as a team, successful in their mission.

In her apartment across the hall, Jen had her hand on Gina's shoulder, a gesture of encouragement at the old shared story they had just finished recapping. "I can't believe we even went in there. I was scared shitless." Jen chuckled deeply and then recoiled a bit realizing the emphasis she had put on the word shitless.

"Hey Jen." No response.

"Jen." Still no response.

Jenny tried to get Jen and Gina's attention but everyone's hearing was fading and the music had slowly turned itself up over the evening. Jenny walked across the room and tried to interject, reaching towards the two girls, "where'd you get ... "

She was interrupted. The door swung open and Marcel and Erika cruised in. "We've got fresh wine," Marcel said with delight and jubilation. "And cups," Erika followed.

Jenny withdrew the object she was holding and took a few steps backwards feeling a bit dejected and a bit confused. She looked up at her four friends to see them smiling and talking ... but she couldn't really make out what they were saying.

***

She'd been off all day. The strap on her purse had snagged on the way out of the house that morning and ripped her bag entirely down the middle, spilling it's contents all over the cold concrete in front of her home. As she was cleaning up the mess, she noticed a small crack spreading through the brand new foundation. "Fuck this," she thought to herself ... pissed.

***

"What a weird ..." she paused mid sentence and thought, "... weird head." Staring at the strange face of the object made her laugh audibly, a slight chuckle followed by a bit of a grunt.

Wondering where she'd put her wine, she wandered back over to Jen's bookshelf where she'd found the head earlier in the night. "I've gotta get home," she thought as she struggled to find the spot from which she'd picked the head up. Still facing the bookshelf, she called out for Jen again.

"Hey Jen." Again, no response.

"Jen!"

"JEN!!!"

Tired, frustrated, and ready to go home to bed, she put the head down on the coffee table, grabbed the Trader Joe's bag containing the remains of her purse, and headed for the door.

"Jenny, you forgot your head." Marcel laughed at the implication of his statement, and then handed her the small statue she'd been examining all night. She grabbed it almost instinctually and thanked Marcel. The metal object consumed the remaining warmth in her hands, and the weight made her feel ill and unbalanced.

"I think I'm going to throw up," she said.

Jenny pushed the head violently into Marcel's chest as she stumbled towards the kitchen, mumbling that it wasn't hers ... it wasn't hers.

The statue slipped through Marcel's hands, dropping to the floor like a bowling ball, cracking the stone tile beneath it.

Erika and Jen were shaken at the sound, and Gina screamed as Jenny hit the floor a few seconds later. The small object rolled awkwardly and haphazardly along the floor for a few feet coming to rest directly adjacent to Jenny's face ... purposefully engaging her.

Both heads were motionless.

'round and 'round

It'd been raining all day.

She couldn't hold still.

The wind was gusting and the house felt chilly.

It was her sixteenth lap around.

"Kitchen ... den ... hallway ... dining room ... seventeen. Kitchen ... den ... hallway ... dining room ... eighteen. Kitchen ... den ... hallway ... dining room ..." She ran into Mother who had just made coffee. Cinnamon was her flavor of choice. The impact sent the heavy glass spice jar tumbling to the floor.

"Niiiinneeeteen," She said timidly.

The screen door rattled.

Back at it She went. "Kitchen ... den ... hallway .... dining room ... twenty. Kitchen ... den ... hallway ... dining room ... twenty one ..." She screamed triumphantly, but not at the count. The rain had stopped and the sun had peaked through a hole in dark clouds. She ran outside and screamed again. This time louder.

"PORCH!!"

Mother swept the floor and was careful not to bump her nails. The nail polish remover was open on the kitchen table, and the scent of solvent was strong as it diffused throughout the room.

This time, the screen door slammed closed as She came running back in.

"Hallway ... den ... kitchen ... dining room. Twenty two." She'd reversed her direction and wondered if she should be counting down. "Hallway ... den ... kitchen ... dining room. Twenty ... oops." The nail polish remover fell to the floor. Mother smirked as wind caught her hair. The smell was overwhelming but soothing.

Mother didn't mind.

Nor did She.

They were both reminded of fresh juice ... and of Father. Father loved fresh juice and he picked oranges every day in the spring and in the fall.

They both wished for a glass of fresh squeezed juice in the morning.

"I can't wait to see him," Mother thought.

"Father'll be home soon," She hoped.

But, he would not be home.

Not in the storm.