Inspired by Edward Hopper's "Summer Interior"
The woman regretted not getting up when her mother first called her for breakfast thirty years ago. She had made it out of bed. Then she sat looking at the fuzzy carpet. It was intricate and soft and she lost track of how many threads there were. Her sheets were thread count, which meant someone had done the counting and labeled a package, but the carpet was not accounted for.
She had moved back home after college and temped, but jealousy cramped her spirit; her classmates had cool jobs in radio, TV, and publishing while all she had to show for her efforts was an RSI from too much typing.Then one day, as she sat on the carpet before breakfast, she became aware of its fuzzies, which looked like green shoots growing. She started counting. It became her pursuit. Her legs ached from being folded at acute angles for a long time.
In another room, the movers had come. They were shakers and movers. They heaved ho with arms thick as tree trunks and had loud voices. She got a whiff of their sweat. They clattered vases. The woman winced. The grandmother clock chimed ting ting ting. It was one octave higher than the men’s voices. The woman didn’t want to leave her room. Her room was all she knew.
Her mother had gone to the grocery store on a whirlwind trip to pick up some cottage cheese. She had said she’d be back in an hour and not to worry. The woman hung her head. She worried because the movers and shakers had come in her mother’s absence. They rattled things on the mantelpiece and stomped on the hardwood floor.
Her hair was the color of hardwood. It was dry, so dry and itchy. She hadn’t washed it in thirty years. She stared at the carpet, her lips murmuring numbers one by one by one.