Homebound
Liz Hall
Break
Since I can't predict when they'll show up I take my shower at 6:30 am. It would be a shame to miss them because I was in the shower, and I like to be clean when they come. I scrub my belly (it's getting fatter) and I imagine all the possible faces they might have. Well, he. Or she. Not they— it will just be one person. Hopefully, she doesn't have bad breath because that happens sometimes when you drive all day and don't talk to a lot of people.
I put in the first batch of cookies. I have to do this in spaced intervals. People can't resist the smell of fresh cookies baking, I know this. I just have to make sure that the house always smells like them. It's hard to tell once you get used to the smell— you know how it wears out after a while and your nose can't detect it anymore even if it's still there.
The lawn is important, too. I pay Cody Delmar to cut it once a week to keep it in shape. I have tidy Pachysandra stretched out in rows behind scalloped brick fencing because it's an easy plant to handle. I clean the birdbath water every morning and sweep the birdseed that has fallen onto the porch. People appreciate a home that looks well taken care of.
It's noon and I'm checking the cookies when the doorbell rings. Sounds promising, even though I don't know how I can detect hope in a set of lifeless chimes. Maybe they sent a woman this time. I pat my hair down to the sides, and turn around.
From where I'm standing I can already see that she is, in fact, a woman. I open the door, trying to look cheerful, but not too cheerful. Like I'm in the middle of something (whatever it is single men my age do), but I can still spare a moment of my time to answer the door.
"Hi there. I've got a delivery for a Mr. Ian Wilson," she says.
"That would be me, thanks. Do I need to sign?"
"Right there, sir." She hands me a clipboard. She's cute. A little chunky and her eyebrows do not match the blonde hair that is held back loosely with a white scrunchi. But cute.
I take my time with reaching into my pocket for a pair of glasses, and then I place them over my eyes with practiced clumsiness. I squint, gripping the pen with a wrinkled set of fingers that have done this many times before.
"Someone's been baking in there. Smells delicious!" she says. And that's when I decide it's safe to take a shot.
"Chocolate chip. They're just about to come out of the oven. If you give me 30 seconds you can try one yourself."
I anticipate her answer and can already see her mouth getting ready to form the words that I don't want to hear. So I throw in: "it's my special recipe." (And I'm not lying) "You've never tasted anything like it."
"Well, thanks so much for the offer. But unfortunately I'm on this new diet." She's probably not lying, either.
One and a half minutes. That was all it took until she's back in her truck, back to the world where old men who bake chocolate chip cookies with special recipes do not exist.
I am alone. Alone, again.
With 36 cookies I cannot eat.
Liz Hall is finishing up her bachelor's degree in English Literature at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. She has fiction forthcoming in Sub-Lit. Aside from her love affair with language, Liz is fiercely passionate about strong coffee and her Shih Tzu, Oscar.