QUIET TIME

Monday, June 7, 2010


After a morning of domestic duties (groceries, cleaning the fridge, laundry, dishes, lunch, dishes) it's finally 1:30, Malko's nap time, and while he drinks his bottle in his crib the house becomes quiet. Relieved, I sit down on the couch to write; Lula, now in her third day of summer vacation, plays with teddy bears on the rug.

A minute passes while I try to remember what I was going to write about. It was something important, I think...frowning, I look out the window. There's a bunch of big black birds in the tree in front of the house. They're making a racket, screeching and whooping like a tequila-fueled bachelor party, and I'm sure they're going to wake Malko. Damn it, birds, I think, shut up! Don't you know nap time, a.k.a. quiet time, is sacred? Huh, birds? Huh? Can you please SHUT UP?

The birds don't shut up. I look at the computer screen: it's 2:15. Malko's going to wake up in an hour, give or take a little. What the HELL was I going to write about?

Lula's voice breaks the not-so-quiet silence: "Maman."

"Mm."

"What are you doing with your finger?"

"What?"

"With your finger. What are you doing with it."

"My finger?" What's she talking about?

"Yeah. You had it in your nose."

"Oh," I say, glad I know the answer so I can tell it to her and she can be quiet again. "My nose was itching."

"Yeah, but you had it inside your nose. Why was the inside itching?"

Jesus. I roll my eyes. "I don't know, Lula. I don't know why the inside of my nose was itching."

"Do you think, uh, do you think...Maman!"

"Mm." I look at her.

"Do you think you have poison oak in your nose?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Why what?!" GOD!

"Why don't you think you have poison oak in your nose?"

"I don't know." Could you please just be quiet now, I silently plead, looking at the clock in the corner of the screen. It's 2:30. "Quiet time"--clearly a misnomer--is dwindling. I've written two sentences.

"Well, you said when you touch poison oak it can come out anywhere, so maybe you do have it in your nose." I don't answer. Maybe if I pretend I'm deaf she'll stop talking?

"Maman." Staring intently at the screen, I fake-type, rattling the keys like I'm in the middle of a very deep, very important thought. Surely she'll see I'm busy and leave me alone.

"MAMAN." She says this in a mock stage-whisper. She's about as quiet as the birds outside who, judging by a new hooting sound, are at the stripper stage of their bachelor party antics; she's about as quiet as my phone's alarm clock, which just went off, inexplicably (maybe it's time to shoot myself?), emitting a muffled mechanical "song" that reminds me, at this particular moment, of an electric chair being dragged across a bumpy concrete floor. I put my head in my hands.

"Maman." I look up. Lula's face is hovering three inches from mine; her body is blocking the computer screen.

"What?" I say. Fuck it! Fuck quiet time!

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing, Lula," I say. "I'm not doing anything." It's true. I've given up. Reaching around her, I close the computer screen, and then I go lie down on the rug. Lula builds a lego castle around me, and ten minutes later, when Malko wakes up, alerted by the sound of crashing legos, he practices tackling me, jumping on my stomach and grabbing my face, laughing maniacally when my amused protestations turn to shrieks.

"No! No! Leave me alone! Please! LEAVE ME ALONE," I wail, but it's no use: my cries mix with those of the birds outside (they just scored an eight-ball) and with the general din in the house. It's no use protesting, because nobody's listening: I'm lost in a sea of chaos and noise.

Quiet time is over.

2 comments:

Kat said...

Hahaha, this is hilarious Izzy....love it!

cpt haddock said...

this is why i never take my finger out of my nose

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