On the hottest day of the summer thus far, with fires raging a few miles away, the sky is raining soot. Since we are nearing the end of the summer, and I have been in lock down with Thing One and Thing Two, while trying to work in my cave of privacy, it seems we are all at wits end. I have run out of tasks for them to do, they are sick of sweeping the floors, writing letters to Santa, and scrubbing the bath tub. So they have taken to fisticuffs. Though playful, someone always gets hurt. Not bad, but enough for me to get of the phone, check the boo-boo, and give them a plate of cookies.
Then suddenly, at 102 degrees outside and black smoky air I keep outside with closed windows, our air conditioner dies. We one by one strip down to basically the bare essentials. I personally hate the heat and clearly they do too. Now everyone is screaming and yelling and brawling.
My fix it guy, for whatever reason, too much traffic, got cozy at the Subway, never showed up. I was waiting for him like a forlorn lover to end my misery. The girls are so out of control I have lost track of them. I just keep hearing things fall, break, crash, but at my desk, staring at bills, work I can’t get done because I can’t think straight, and looking around my office, which somehow in the heat is the ugliest place I have ever sat in, brings up in me every bad memory of my life. I break down in tears and can’t stop sobbing, yanking the yellow pages to find help. I settle on the first ad because it says, FAST EDDY.
“Just how fast are you Eddy?” I am now sobbing uncontrollably. I can hear chatter in the background. I am telling them my life story. “Then after my dad left, we lived in a car for a while…anyway….I have two small girls, one is breaking out in heat blotches, I can’t think, I’m going to lose my job, nothing has ever worked out! I had such big plans Eddy!”
“Calm down miss, calm down.” But I can’t stop crying. I throw myself on the bed and wait for Eddy.
Miraculously he arrives in 20 minutes. But his name is Raul. Or Roll. Or something like that. He is sketchy, and probably a thief, but I don’t care. I have black mascara all over my face and I leave it there. But I did put on some pants before answering the door.
He brings in his tools. The girls have now completely lost their minds. They are running around the house with nothing as innocuous as scissors, but have somehow gotten a staple gun, my husband’s cigar clipper and other sharp objects I can’t even identify.
“We are building a rocket ship to Iceland.”
It made perfect sense.
“Just be careful.”
As Roll works on the outdoor air unit, I notice the girls are not building a spaceship but are shooting wasps and cutting them in half.
“AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” I snap to my senses and grab what may as well be a rocket launcher.
“Mom! We have to kill the wasps before they kill us!” They run around the overgrown backyard, insane from the heat.
“Stand in the shade and DON’T MOVE!”
Back in the house I put away the weapons on high shelves, survey the kitchen. It’s a mess. Dishes, toys, newspapers, soda bottles, left over breakfast. I get why my sister of eight once said “what’s the point” when I asked her why she never cleans her house. I judged her so harshly for that comment and now completely understand. Then it occurred to me I hadn’t eaten all day. But there are dishes, so I fed the girls. Syrup drips off the table. Looks like pancakes. Then I see a bunch of perfectly ripe bananas and a sense of calm washes over me. They are beautiful. I grab them and run outside.
“Girls! Everybody just calm down and eat a banana.” I start handing them out.
“I don’t want a banana, mom.”
“Just eat your goddamn banana!”
Roll looks over at me. I smile sheepishly.
“I mean frickin. Do people say frickin?”
Both girls throw their bananas on the patio table and resume their running to nowhere game.
“Please just sit down and eat these bananas! They are perfect! They will rot if we don’t eat them. Think of the starving children!” I start to sob again. How could I be saying that? I have become my mother and my father.
Roll walks over.
“Give me the bananas. I love them.”
“By the way, the system needs complete overhaul.” Then something about burnt plastic and initially crappy installation. He howls when I tell him who originally installed it.
“They didn’t show ‘cause they are based 70 miles from here.” More laughter. He consults his notepad.
“This will cost 1000.00. But I guarantee you the other company would’ve charge more ‘cause they have to drive so far and they would’ve used plastic again. I’m using copper.” I suddenly don’t care I am overdrawn, and I am also being ripped off. I have a few thousand dollars hidden under my office rug.”
I am sweating, crazy, the girls are still running around the filthy backyard proudly pointing out dead wasps they had shot with a staple gun. I know there must be a nest. The Chinese elm is so over grown there is debris everywhere. In that mess is a nest, and more wasps. I run in the house and grab the staple gun and start shooting at the tree. Roll looks at me. I lower the gun.
“It actually works. Who knew?”
The girls grab the hose and spray my husband’s coveted barbeque grill, probably destroying it. Then they join me and spray the tree, debris falls on our heads. I can’t control them. I can’t control myself. I run to the kitchen, covered in we leaves, put the staple gun on top of a shelf, and tears spontaneously drip from my eyes. Why can’t I stop crying? I sit down in the filthy kitchen and eat three bananas. Finish off the bunch. I start to feel better. Then there is cold air blasting from the vents.
Roll and the girls walk in.
“Mommy! He fixed it!” They both splay out on the living room carpet.
“I have three of my own,” Roll tells me as I hand over the cash. He leaves.
I join the girls and we just lie there, and sigh.