At 5:30 her eyes open. She looks at the violent gash of sunlight that falls between the curtains illuminating a box the size and shape of a coffin
above her body. Her sleepy mind
still tells dream-stories
and it conjures a parade of coffins, coffins of all sizes created by the shapes of sunlight on the wall at every hour of the day. Coffins inside of coffins: like an onion skin
. She turns on her side and the dreams fade, instantly forgotten. She walks, barefoot, to the kitchen. Dust coats her feet. She has been asleep for a long time.
are calling out to each other from the scaffolding on the adjacent brownstone
. A cement truck
churns and bangs. In the kitchen she fills the heavy iron pot. The first thing she does each day is boil the water. She never could quite wake up till the teapot whistle
would blow. She wonders if the neighbors can hear it. She hopes they do. If workmen will call out, and scaffolding will groan the least she can do is whistle.
"A whistling woman and a crowing hen are both abominations to the lord
" she mutters, then she hums a few bars of ring around the rosy. She sings "a pocket full of ashes well all fall down
!" She laughs dryly.
joins in her song with harsh off-key whistle, like a factory calling in the boys. She lets the whistle ring a bit (as to wake up her neighbors). Then she pours the water over the oatmeal
that sits pre-measured on the countertop. She walks to the window and observes the workmen
struggling with giant knots of heavy rope
. Suddenly one looks up and she remembers that she is naked
. But, rather than being embarrassed
, (as she at first expected) she found herself simply walking away in annoyance. What could her nakedness matter to the man down there? The walls of the city are plastered with flesh. Nakedness is meaningless.
It’s treasure given to little girls
to guard since there was nothing of real value to offer them. But only by giving up that treasure could a girl at last discover it was worthless
. "horde something else
." She muttered.
The oatmeal is ready. Swollen and a little cold. She takes her pill
, then she takes the oatmeal. It has no real taste. But, one has to start someplace she thinks. That was breakfast. Next came the roads.
. Real runners take no pause before they start, nor would they plan a course. The runner will follow the path her legs are called to. The runner simply runs
. And so she ran
Even though people would shout things at her: insults
s, laughter she took a great deal of comfort in knowing that none of those who laughed could ever hope to catch her. On balmy dark nights when she was called to run buy the strange fore that pulls runners forward
she would fall through the night air in spite of her fear of the people who haunt cities after dusk. For, when fear is conquered we each find an equal share of bravery there. So, anyone who spoke to her at night would hear her call out "oh but you can’t catch me
! I bet you can’t catch me!" This was alarming (even to the night people who thought they had seen everything!) and so for fear of the secret strength
of foolish bravery they never even tried to catch her once. It worked.
But now her morning run was nearly over. She comes through the park
in a harsh sprint
. longs to leap over the stone wall and the cars to run up the edge of the buildings and over the city to burst through and disperse the clouds to knock the stars asunder
and confound the astronomers
to at last become a hot comet
and streak across the morning
sky: to be vaporized
, to give up her little life for a flash of light, to be wished upon by whoever is lucky enough to look up.
But she is just a runner
, not a demi-god
. So, instead, she goes inside to get dressed for work
. She glances at the ceiling and sees the coffin there again: a wide plane of light that covers the room. But (she thinks) "there is nothing morbid
in a death wish
. . . if you plan to be born again
." She winks at the teapot.
And she leaves for work.