• Carolyn Steele Agosta

And on the 30th Day

By the thirtieth day of lockdown, things were getting ragged. My alcoholic brother had run out of booze, my crazy sister-in-law was getting even crazier, I had run through all my DVDs and couldn’t find anything interesting on Netflix. My husband had cleaned out the garage and repaired the pump and alphabetized the spices and was now intent on planning the meals (which I cooked) and being sure to announce (to me) when the laundry cycle had finished.

I had begun lying about supposed fiction blasts, just to have time to myself at the computer, where I created fantasy trips around the world, using Google maps. I’m currently touring the west coast of England, after having finished the Road to Nowhere down Highway 83 through the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. They weren’t exaggerating when they tagged it the Road to Nowhere, by the way. Just sayin’.


The liquor stores had been closed by governor’s orders. I suppose they didn’t want folks to drink themselves to death, once they were forced to stay at home, but did anyone ONCE consider what it would be like for the family members to have to live with an alcoholic who had no alcohol? Buzz has already gone through our pitiful selection of wine coolers and Fra Angelico and even the Jim Beam bourbon-filled chocolate candies we were saving for Easter. Now he is trying to fill his craving with anything sweet. He’s gone through two huge jars of jam, all the ice cream, the Oreos, the Raisin Bran, and he’s now down to a six-pack of frozen popsicles. I don’t know what he’s going to do after this, but he’s not getting my Vanilla Wafers, I don’t care what happens.


Kaitlyn’s not actually crazy, if you want to get technical about it, but close enough. She whispers to herself a lot and keeps ordering things they can’t afford from Home Shopping Network. They’re both out of work right now, and moved in with us to save money, and I’m beginning to worry about the safety of my credit cards. She keeps whispering things like, “Twenty percent off Dearfoams,” And “Cuddli-Duds pajama sets, 2 for 1.” Yesterday, FedEx delivered a Litter Robot 3 Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Box. We don’t have a cat.


My husband is almost the worst. He watches the TV and argues with it, and keeps insisting he HAS to go to the store to buy emergency items like a connector hose so he can fix the boat motor. Or some boards to build a shelf in the basement. His need to be in control of his own life is something I can understand, but if he tells me again about the ONE best way to freeze bread or comments one more time about how much he misses Chinese food, I’m seriously going to have to hurt him. I miss Chinese food too! There’s nothing I can do about it!


I miss Chinese food. I miss my grandbabies. I miss pedicures. I miss driving in my car to the craft store or my friend’s house, or to a movie. (I don’t care what anyone says, watching an action movie on a TV screen is NOT the same as a movie theater screen). (Not to even mention the popcorn. Microwave popcorn is no substitute.) (I mean, seriously.)


So when I had to cook dinner for this group on the 30th night, and everybody just wandered away from the table afterward without carrying a single dish to the sink, and my alcoholic brother snagged the last gummy bear, and my sister-in-law murmured, “Weekly special value, only six left,” and my husband told me the washing machine was ready to be emptied, I just snapped.


I bolted to my car and drove to the nearest WalMart, and forcibly jumped the line, and ran around touching everything in sight, especially the door handle for the Ladies’ Room, and finally fell in a frenzy on the dirty floor, and screamed and screamed and screamed.

The cop looked down at me and sighed. “Lady,” he said, “we’re all goin’ through hard times. I know it ain’t easy. Now you just get up and go home, and we’ll write you up a citation, but no jail time. You don’t want to be in a jail right now.”


“Nut house?” I begged.


“They’re on lockdown too. Just go home. Have something to eat. Watch a TV show. Life will go on, if you let it, okay?”

His compassion touched something in me, and I got to my feet, and smoothed my hair, and wiped my hands. He was right. Life would go on. Some day, this epidemic would be over, and we would all move forward into some kind of new normal.


I drove home, parked the car, and walked inside. Turns out, nobody had even realized that I’d gone. My alcoholic brother was in a corner, curled into a fetal position and crunching away on cough drops. My crazy sister-in-law was out on the porch, laughing in a very sinister tone and cuddling a newly-delivered Isacc Mizrahi Live! True Denim Quilted Floral Printed Chambray Jacket. My husband was at his computer, playing Sudoko. “Laundry’s done,” he said.


I did not speak. I killed them all, yes, but I did not say a word.




(This was written to the inspiration prompt of "I did not speak.") (I am ordinarily not a blood-thirsty person.) (Just sayin')

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