Countdown

Fifty is fast approaching and today marks 72 days away from being officially postmenopausal. Unless, of course, I bleed between now and June. If I do, the countdown starts all over. I don’t want that. I’m done cocooning and dissolving—I’m restless and ready to emerge. Ready to see who I might be on the other side of this wild frontier. I get fleeting flashes of her sometimes. Perhaps that’s what the rising heat in me is. Her, inching her way to the surface. Perhaps that’s her in my ears. Sounding the alarm with an incessant ring a note or two higher than the girl-chalk-clown TV test card of my childhood.

Today was not a normal day. It started way too early for me. I rarely get to bed before 1 a.m. It’s part lockdown listlessness, part the Great Pause. So I tend to get up a good while after my husband. He’s been working from home for over a year now. It’s not always easy for him. We’re a family of five with a 10-month old pandemic puppy. It gets noisy here. He spends much of the day flitting from room to room trying to find the quiet and space he needs to do his job properly. We know he’s lucky to still have one.

The text tone drags me from my dreams at 6.52 a.m. My friend of forty years. She’d tried to call last night, but last night was Thursday and Thursdays are sacrosanct. Even in (un)fair Corona times. Zoom singing with my SoulRoots sisters is a sweet anchor in a week where all the other days fold into each other.

Blurry-eyed, I look around and notice my youngest in the bed, my husband not. I consider calling my friend, thinking I can sneak out whilst my son sleeps—until I hear the puppy’s pitiful whine. His urgent morning wee cry, the one my husband usually answers. I don’t call her. Instead I let the puppy out. A few days ago he was a Chewbacca bear of a dog with “an expressive coat”. Now, after a long overdue groom, he’s a soft-as-suede lithe little lady with bunchees and a fluffy prancing horse tail.

It takes me some time to dress for the outside world—I’m out of practice. I remember keys, purse, hand sanitiser and mask, but forget my phone. I pop to the shops, coming home when I have a back full of food.

Mid-afternoon, my daughter asks if we have two sticks the same length. I mention the old bay branches tucked in the corner of the garden, still waiting for their beds to be made. She has in mind a big bubble wand. We have one! Under the youngest’s bed! Colourful fat globs wobble past the pink magnolia up to the azure. My youngest watches till they pop. The day passes in domestic doings. Tendings. Scatterings. Gatherings.

And I countdown the days to June, wondering what kind of world I’ll emerge into and who I’ll be.

This (edited) flash was written as part of a community Covid diary. This is Friday 26th March in 500 words or less.

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