Should I go to work tomorrow? I turn the thought over in my head, over and over, carefully, like a tangible thing.

Sometimes things end well by not seeming over. The unfinished quality can be a sort of crutch – a conversation that was left on pause, a discussion that was to be resumed, measurements still to be handed over, paint swatches to compare – a deposit, a guarantee. It’s easier, later, to roll all the intangible remaining bits up into a little ball that can sit somewhere until it dissipates.

Goodbye never does what it should, so I don’t say it. It doesn’t provide a pat ending – not even an ellipses. I’ll be there, at work, tomorrow, knowing that I’m about to be gone – temporarily, but far – and there will be no goodbye to create a false sense of urgency, of poignancy. No one will suddenly hijack what should be my experience to tell me that whatever form of transportation I take is the least safe, or how to stay alive five seconds longer if I’m set on fire. Hot Dad won’t start a hugfest that will vividly remind me of chiropractic work. Instead I will hear a long story about how a banana that was supposed to be eaten in the car has somehow made it all over the face, into the pockets, and smeared on the shirt. “Can you tell Miss Lola you’re so sticky?” Offending Parent asks, unaware that his or her child is mortified to be banana-smeared in front of teachers and peers.

The richer the parents, the more inept they are at feeding their offspring a banana. Fact.

I don’t know if I’ll go in tomorrow. My vacation has already technically started. My existing memories of bananas might prove sufficient.


elsa vs. world

“I want to see the world,” Elsa said, smiling. I wanted to ask why. I wanted to ask are you sure you’re cut out for that? I didn’t want to sound unkind. I tried phrasing it differently in my mind, but she started talking before I could arrive at a new and satisfactory re-phrasing. “I’m going to CouchSurf.” she said happily. “That way I don’t have to pay for a place to stay. And there are CSers all over the world. I could go anywhere.” I picked up a plate and began drying. “Have you – have you done it before?” I asked carefully. “Oh, um, no – but lots of people have.” She shrugged. “It’s easy.”

“Did Elsa tell you about wanting to see the world?” I asked the director, hours later, dishes dried and stored. She nodded. “So I guess she’s quitting?” I mean – of course she has to quit to see the world. Another nod. “Since when does she not want to devote her life to children?” I felt vaguely betrayed, at the very least disappointed. “Honestly?”
“Yes, of course honestly.”
“Since you made it look so easy.”

if only

Had he and I met, I wanted to say, under different circumstances, we would have been fast friends. I wanted to say it – but it’s incredibly trite. I bought underwear instead. I was at Victoria’s Secret, so underwear buying was in order. Expected. I placed several varieties of lace in a row and tried to decide between leopard lace and champagne-coloured sparkle lace.

But we didn’t meet under different circumstances. We met under these: he brought his child to my daycare. He shook my hand and then, well, then I met his wife. Blue leopard or wait, is that zebra or giraffe or animal at all? The saleslady was shaking her head at me. She approved only of the champagne sparkle lace. Of course he’s married. Of course we can’t be friends. Slippery slope. Sticky wicket.

“And here is the matching bra! What’s your size?” She arched her eyebrows; she thought I was kidding. I held the bra flush against my chest to show her I was not. I liked his face when we met. Instantly. It’s nice; I hardly ever just like a face. His wife told me once “He’s funny looking, isn’t he? He’s got weird looks, right?” and she sighed without me even answering. I didn’t have to know that. I hadn’t asked.

“If you buy – look – only a little more, you can get the free gift!” New saleslady was looking at me with her big, beautiful eyes. “Do you like eyeshadow palettes?” She held up something boxy and incomprehensible. “I don’t . . . that’s really eyeshadow? I wouldn’t know how – I don’t wear makeup.” She nodded knowingly and told me where to find the extra-soft t-shirts. “T-shirts!” said my friend. “You love t-shirts! Let’s go see.” I answered and began to look them over, shiny, bright colours, glitter, emblazoned with ‘Pink’ and numbers and graphics.

He’s lost weight recently. He thinks I don’t know they’re fighting. I don’t like to see him unhappy, or painfully thin. He asked me to tell him if he was ever not being a good enough dad. “Or if I’m not polite enough to you. Or the other teachers. Or . . . anything that I should do. I don’t know.”

“So you want pants?” I looked down; I had somehow wandered into the pants section. Four pairs of eyes were trained on me, expectantly. “Do you even know what you want?” My friend asked me, almost teasing. “I always know what I want,” I told her “and you should know that about me by now.” Inwardly resolving, of course, not to think about it anymore. My vacation is coming. If I don’t see him, I’ll forget. It’s not important.