She gets up. Its sometime in the early afternoon.
She feels the remnants of a really bad headache. Makes her rub on her forehead.
She’s dressed in a silk black robe. It loosely clings to her slender frame.
She’s not sure that she’s quite awake yet.
She thinks or perhaps she dreams that the workmen are in her apt and she imagines the things she will say to them for entry while she slept.
She walks out thinking that she does discover the workmen. They’re foreign, with little knowledge of English, and while they’re stammering or perhaps muttering an excuse to her, something about lights, she senses that something isn’t right. It is as if gravity isn’t very stable though she doesn’t know for everything is blurry when she thinks of it.
She sees herself yelling to the workmen for not calling first and as she yells she shakes because not only is she angry she’s embarrassed. The one workman smirks at her for he is well aware of her embarrassment and too perhaps he notices her breasts under her robe as they shake with her. She cannot believe his cheek.
She’s standing at the kitchen counter and she looks down and suddenly remembers. The workmen are not in her apt but in the hallway outside speaking in Spanish whispers.
She sees last night’s gifts and goodies spilled over the counter and knows that she’s just celebrated a birthday. The gifts are neatly wrapped and sophisticated, as she’d expect from all her friends, and there is pastry, savory and sweet ones, and chocolate, some already open, and a note from Tom declaring her the love of his life and wishing that all and only good things come her way. There is jewelry and money amongst the pile and she knows that Tom has been good to her and that he loves her very much. She remembers his kiss and the sex – the astonishing sex.
She knows now she was tangled in dreams perhaps as a result of too much champagne. And she feels now, knowing this that life is indeed good, that all is well and settled and that worry is far from her mind. She rubs her eyes and while she rubs dark shadows play shape in her vision.
The more she rubs the clearer the shadows become.
She sees now that the shadows are Tom’s lonely desk, the closet he leaves open everyday after dressing for work and the stray rack that he insists on keeping in the too-cluttered bedroom.
The bedroom door is open and the workmen that usually wake her daily when they clean the hallway are no longer there.
She hears the dog bark and realizes that this now here is real life.
No party, no gifts, no unopened chocolate, no sweet and savory pastries, no money or jewels – no birthday either.
She knows she’s woken late and that the dog needs to be walked.
She thinks now how much does Tom really love me?
And whether he loves her at all.
Safiya Sawney is a Grenadian student currently pursuing a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy at Colombia University. In her down time she writes fiction and essays, and trolls New York City for new musical talent.