I spent Friday feverish, throat like a Brillo Pad, dreading the moment the kids would come home. I heard them enter, my husband shushing them with a “Mom’s sick! Let her sleep!”
The door squeaked. I sensed little faces staring at me in the dimness of my shuttered bedroom, their breathing like stage whispers.
My older daughter broke the, um, let’s call it “silence,” and shoved six little glass bottles at my sleeping face. “Mom, which one of these spices is expired?”
I gave up the pretense of sleep. Eyes shut, I mumbled, “Why? Why would you need to know this?”
“I need to capture night.”
“You need to CAPTURE NIGHT?” I croaked out, the bottles tinkling as they tumbled off my pillow.
My younger daughter sneezed in my face and then attempted, without success, to suck the snot back up into her nose. Repeatedly.
I stared at her as she struggled to nose-vacuum mucus off her face. “Yeah, you’re probably gonna need a tissue to resolve that,” I said.
My older daughter was still intent on somehow ensnaring the darkening sky and stuffing it into a bottle, like “I Dream of Jeannie.”
“Is the paprika expired? Is the thyme expired? Is the curry powder expired? Is the sage expired?”
“Use the sage. THE SAGE. That’s from when I made a turkey five years ago.”
She left the room and I could hear her banging the bottle against the garbage can. Her sister was fake-blowing her nose on every tissue in the box and chucking them on the floor, where our St. Bernard snacked on them.
“MOM!” I heard from the kitchen. “How do I get the label off??”
“Can’t you just cross off ‘Sage’ and write ‘Night’ on it?”
My husband walked into the night-capturing-snot-spraying-tissue-eating catastrophe zone. “Girls! I told you not to bother your mom!”
He corralled them for supper. And just as on Christmas morning, when every Who down in Whoville began to sing, the dinner decibel level started in low. Then it started to grow. Capital offenses were taking place. People touched other people’s placemats. People hummed in enraging ways. Food items were deemed unsatisfactory and required immediate replacement. Dogs growled and snapped because other dogs dared to live in the same neighborhood. I could tell my husband was starting to lose his shit.
I dragged myself out of bed, limbs aching, feeling obligated to assist. This was a mistake. They turned on me as soon as I appeared, seeking answers to ALL THE THINGS.
“Mommy, are you going to be able to read to me tonight?”
“Mom! I have to write in my food journal! Are chips a vegetable?”
“Mommy! Are you better?”
“Sure. Let’s just say I feel great. I can feel ‘great’ for ONE HOUR.”
I grabbed an icepack and face-planted into it, begging for night.
If only I could capture it in a bottle.