She gazes out the laundry room window as she folds the clean, fragrant sheets. She uses lavender scented Bounce. She has heard that lavender helps induce slumber. Mona hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in years, however.
It is nearly time for her three bumptious children to get off the bus, run feverishly into the house and demand snacks. They love popcorn balls. Mona makes two kinds: one with molasses and vanilla, and the other with caramel sauce. They make a sticky mess. Mona absolutely hates making them.
After Justin, Freddie and Portia wolf down their snacks, leaving sticky fingerprints all over the countertops, they go outside to play before dinner.
Oh, no. Dinner. Mona has been making dinner every single night for twenty years. She grinds out meatloaves, fried chicken, fish sticks, and spaghetti on weeknights, and every Sunday there is roast chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Her husband Roland loves pies. So she makes those, too. Mona despises cooking.
One thing Mona loves to do is read. She can dispatch a novel in a day. That is, she used to read that way, before she was tied down with the children and that great big, dusty house. The baseboards take an hour to clean—and they collect the dust of the ages. Sometimes Mona wonders if she is wiping away the detritus from long-ago residents of the place. Her house was built in 1867. So these days, Mona is lucky to get a chapter in once in awhile. She often reads in doctor’s waiting rooms—about the only places she goes these days where there is peace and quiet.
Mrs. Green, Mona’s English teacher in high school, told Mona that she had a flair for poetry. Mona felt things deeply, she said. It was obvious the way she described the fleeting bursts of happiness that the breeze blowing through her hair brought her. Or the searing pain that she felt the day her dog Luna died. Mona still has the spiral notebook filled with her poems. She keeps it beneath the bras in her underwear drawer.
Roland has become concerned lately. He has observed Mona staring into space after she finishes cleaning up the kitchen when supper is over. When he asks her to bring him some ice water on her way upstairs after locking up the house for the night, she doesn’t seem to respond. He has to go thirsty. He wonders what on earth has gotten into his faithful spouse.
Mona gets her own drink of water. She squeezes a little fresh lemon juice into it, and then drains the glass dry. As she makes the rounds, turning off lights and locking the doors, she remembers the poem she wrote about the first time she laid eyes on the boy who was to become the love of her life.
And then she trudges up the stairs to Roland, whom she would really enjoy murdering.