|a message from my daughter|
The writer puts the tea kettle on and stands at the window waiting for the water to boil.
A bird flutters past and the writer remembers a correspondence she must reply to, so she climbs the stairs to her room.
One correspondence leads to another and to checking, because there is an endless supply of checking to do, checking on this thing and another - a link a friend has sent, the requirements for a submission, the details of the gossip she's heard about ________________.
The writer senses a smell, something odd and metallic, familiar yet too faint to register. She has remembered another correspondence she must reply to and then something she needs to post, and a contract she hasn't yet signed.
But then the smell grows strong enough for her to leap from her chair and rush to the kitchen where the windows are fogged and the tea kettle sits, dry and crackling, cooking under the stove's flame.
She turns off the flame and swears.
Still she wants a cup of tea. But the kettle is so hot that she doesn't want to put water in it. She is afraid it might further damage the tea kettle or cause the house to fill with more smoke. She stands at the window waiting for the kettle to cool down.
She gets bored even though it's snowing. She wipes the counters and sweeps the floors and thinks about an unfinished project, wondering if it's worth finishing and then finds herself sitting by the fire.
She gets too warm and wanders into the study where she contemplates some videos that are overdue. She decides to watch a documentary about Man Ray.
She's hoping to think of something profound to write about Man Ray, but doesn't.*
She climbs the stairs and takes out the unfinished project. She starts to work on it but almost immediately decides that it isn't worth finishing.
She dreads all the time she is wasting because there are so many meaningful things she could be doing.
But then she is afraid that maybe they aren't that meaningful after all.
Near the end of his life, an interviewer asked Man Ray what in life gave him the most satisfaction. After a pause he said, "Women."
The writer goes to the kitchen for a snack. She remembers that she was going to have tea. She fills the tea kettle and turns the flame to high. She looks out the window and then glances at the clock. It's already time to get the kids from school.
She turns off the stove and walks out the door.
*The detail from the documentary that most intrigues the writer: Man Ray's lover and student Lee Miller plucked from the trash a negative that Man Ray threw away. She printed it, a photo of her long neck. When Man Ray saw it, he signed it. Lee Miller felt the credit belonged to her. A major fight ensued that forever damaged their relationship.