My eyes shoot open as I whip my arm out to stop the incessant call of the alarm clock, slamming my hand down on the snooze button. The room is only left with the soft sound of the overhead fan and the humidifier that is trying its best. Instinctively, I pull the covers up to my chin, trying to retain the warmth from my bed before I must begin the journey that is getting up.
My head nestles into my pillow more as I sink into my bed as if it is quicksand. The desire to go back to sleep and keep sleeping and sleeping is overwhelming. What if I call off today? What if it's just one day? How much could one day hurt?
Lucy, you need to make coffee.
The thought of coffee settles me in a way I do not understand, but it is essential to my being. I need to make coffee.
"I need to make coffee," I whisper to myself as I shove the covers off and plant my feet on the hard, wood floors. I should buy some slippers.
I stumble my way to the kitchen, where I immediately head to the coffee pot. I start by adding the water, putting in the coffee filter, and throwing some coffee grounds in by a brand I do not know because this was a gift from my mom, and brew.
I leave the kitchen behind as I officially start my morning routine of going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, flossing, washing my face, and doing all of my skincare, which at this point in my life is seven steps. The joy of being 32 years old.
I meander back to the kitchen, where I smell that distinct coffee scent in the air, telling me that my coffe is almost done. As I grab my decatf and catffeinated mug from the cabinet, I feel myself ease into my morning routine as I make myself some sourdough toast with over easy eggs. I take my breakfast to the table and fill up my mug with coffee that tastes okay, but the taste doesn't matter. I need the coffee, so whatever will do.
I slowly eat, dipping the toast into the runny eggs as I watch some morning news on the TV. I'm not really paying attention, but it's a welcome distraction as I finish eating and wash the dishes. I tune in and out of the TV, and I hear about how today is supposed to be a high of fifty.
"That's not too bad," I think to myself. 50 degrees is plenty comfortable as long as I have a coat. Maybe I should go out today. I could visit a store. I could go out to eat. I could go on a walk in the park.
That would be nice.
I make my way back to my room, where unfortunately there is a monster of laundry, shooting daggers at me from the floor. I ignore its menacing stare as I reach for the last clean pair of jeans I have in my closet.
Next is a top, which today seems to be a loose, button-up. The outfit is never complete without jewelry. I put on the watch my dad got me for Christmas, and I put in an old pair of gold studs that are shaped like hearts.
You got dressed. Time to work. Yes, I got to clock in before 8 a.m.
I briefly glance at the clock, which tells me, 7:52.
I leave my bedroom and make my way to my undefined, multiple purpose room. There is a dusty yoga mat in the corner. There is the desk nestled by the window that sees me Monday through Friday. There is a full-sized spare bed that is almost exclusively used for my parents when they come in.
My desk is cluttered with my planner, dozens of tiny note-pads, a cup of pens and pencils, and two bottles of hand sanitizer. There are three pictures, which are me at graduation, my mom, my dad, and I when we were at the Grand Canyon 20 years ago, and Jack and I's wedding picture. I stare at the wedding picture as my computer starts up.
Hi, Jack. I miss you. I miss you so much. I love you.
I tear my eyes from the picture and plug my login into my computer. It's 7:56 a.m. I usually log in at 7:59 a.m. It's an early day.
* * *
The job is normal, which for a transcriber, it's pretty boring. I finished working on a presentation from last week. There are always new things to do with my company, but they appreciate that all of my transcriptions are quick and clean.
I don't know why I said that they appreciate me at work because they don't. The only person who is responsible for giving me feedback is Brad, but he is too busy complaining about his wife or the fact that Josh got promoted before him. Of course, he could also complain about his son, Kyle, who does not even try in school. Unfortunately, for Brad, Kyle was doomed from the time his name was written on his birth certificate. Even if Brad had nothing to complain about, he would complain about having nothing to complain about.
Brad does not bother me much anyway since he has never said or mentioned any kind of fault with my work, but that certainly isn't enough to give me a pay raise or offer me more benefits. What does it matter anyway? I work your typical 8-5 with a decent lunch break.
* * *
Eight hours later, my body aches as it is the first time I have moved in hours. I clock out, and I climb out of my chair, stretching as too many bones crack in response.
I really should exercise more.
I leave my office and head to the kitchen, where I make myself some spaghetti and meatballs with a salad. Once everything is done, I take my dinner to the couch and plant myself in front of the TV as I watch House Chasers, where one episode turns into five episodes before I notice.
It's 7:16 p.m. I should call mom.
I turn the TV off as I take my plate to the sink before mom starts yelling at me through the speaker phone.
"Hey, Lucy. I wondered when you were going to call. What did you do today?"
"Oh, I just worked like usual. I made myself some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner! I ended up watching too much House Chasers, which I'm sure you'll find hard to believe," I say jokingly, but there is no laughter from mom on the other end. She doesn't say anything for a while, but I don't offer anything in return.
"Lucy, answer me honestly when I ask you this."
Her tone sounds threatening. There is an edge to it. My immediate instinct is to lie to her no matter what the question is, but I know I shouldn't do that. I shouldn't lie to my mom. I shouldn't be afraid of what she will say.
"Good. Now, tell me. Did you wake up this morning and start by making coffee," she asserts while also pausing as if to build suspense.
Don't go there, mom.
"And after you started your coffee, did you go wash your face and brush your teeth? Did you make yourself eggs with toast? Did you watch the news then get ready? Did you work till 12 exactly, have your lunch, and I don't know, play on your phone, then go back to work? Did you finish work, make your spaghetti, and watch TV? And are we now at the part where you call me and tell me everything is fine?"
The way she spoke to me could have been easily dismissed as anger. She is angry at her daughter. That is what this is about, people may say. But it isn't. This is the sound of a mother who is cracking under pressure. A mother who cannot piece the puzzle together.
I can see my mom as she has her eyebrows scrunched together, and she's biting her lip so tight it could be bleeding. But tears do not prick her eyes. They prick mine.
"Yeah, mom. That's what I did today."
I hear her sigh on the phone. I didn't want this to happen. Not today, not ever. Why did it have to be like this?
"Lucy. Two weeks ago was the fifth anniversary of Jack's death. You have been grieving, healing, hurting, growing, but you are at a point where this is the best you can do. You are trying so hard to prove something, and I don't know what it is! You were doing better when you lived at home with us, but since you decided to go off on your own, you have tried and tried and tried. But this has been your life for months. You moved out and got your job in May. It's January 2nd, Love. I don't want this life for you, Lucy. I don't want you to keep suffering."
Now, we are both crying.
I have been trying to be this person who can live on their own again and be happy.But I don't know how to live without Jack like this. I don't know how to be alone without him.
I vaguely hear her ask why I feel the need to keep up a front. Why I hide my pain from her, from everyone.
The plain truth is that I wanted to prove to Jack that I could do it. I can live on my own, and even in death, he won't have to worry. But I can't. And I can't live like this anymore.
Lucy Anderson is going on five years since her husband died, and she is trying to get back to her daily life and live a life that would make happy as well as her late husband, Jack. In her attempts to rekindle joy in her life, she goes to her local library and quickly falls in love with a book she used to read. After reading one of her favorites, she decides to leave a note in the story, so someone else can feel some love and joy in their lives. But what if the person who picks it up is Thomas Clark, the newest librarian, who is trying to get a grasp on what he wants to do with his life as he's promised himself he wouldn't repeat the same mistakes as before. What will happen as Thomas' and Lucy's lives become tangled up in each others?