The movie soundtrack blasted into the deepening night through the open windows. Dim lamplight cascaded across the Art Deco sideboard, tripping across slivers of missing veneer—chipped teeth in an otherwise full smile.
Earlier, I drew the curtains to filter the sunlight, closing out the world. I dozed off into the blanket of heat somersaulting through the cottage, JoJo nudged against me, gently rapping my hand with her scarred leg for more dutiful attention. My mind, exhausted, melded scenes together from the day, stitching an epilogue onto the afternoon.
Nearly thirty minutes later, I tumbled off of the sofa dazed, determined to attend to my growling stomach. Bowl in hand, I shuffled outside, stopping at the drip drip drip of the leaky spigot—the bucket beneath brimming from the day-long drops. I carted it along with the bowl, swung back the warped garden door, and emptied the water beneath the bush beans and snow peas, the flowering squash and struggling tomatoes.
Romaine leaves pulled off easily, and I tossed them into the bowl along with a few long beans, peas, and hearty, slightly browned mixed greens. I filled the bowl with water, letting everything soak inside while I ventured back out into the heat.
I left my bag and grabbed my keys, wallet, and phone, and started up my car—the entire metallic body caked with cherry pits and dried juice, leaves and twigs forming a mosaic across the hood. None of it rolled off as I drove the short way uphill for cupcakes.
A street fair filled the entire downtown junction, and I weaved through families gorging on sweets and sizzling kabobs, and perused the dollar books; a sign on the store’s door read, “Honor system. Deposit money in mail slot.”
With my two cupcakes boxed, I headed home, listening to the car shudder and groan down the steep hills, crunching gravel between hot rubber and cracked asphalt as I turned onto my street. I descended back down into my overgrown haven, and JoJo greeted me like it’d been ages, not twenty minutes.
I fixed my salad. I watched my movie. I ate my cupcakes. I gazed at the sunset. I stood at my kitchen sink in the dark, the dishes done in a matter of minutes.
The yard was dark. JoJo was tucked into bed.
I switched off the fans and collected her toys, depositing them back into their bins.
I walked into my room and shut the windows. A spray of browning flowers from a recent wedding sat in a deep green Floraline vase atop my dark-stained bureau—palm fronds throwing shadows up the uneven wall like pointy fingers. The air was heavy with the fragrant sogginess of floral decay.
I sat on my bed and considered the evening, filled with such quiet, full moments: my beloved, subtle luxuries—fuel for a life unburnished.