Crisp brown poppy pods sifted softly through dry winter. Light blue shadows whimpered over the boxed walls of the small apartment. The telephone rang once, twice, three times, she heard the fourth. She bungled her heavy morning hand over the red phone plastered still against the bedside table. She wiped her hands on the itched blue of her terry cloth robe. The heavy glistening of winter dripped against her bedroom window. Always the wind, always the pushing of ragged breezes against her mouse cage home.
“Sylvia? Sylvia come down to the ward. The baby’s almost here.”
“I’ll be right there.”
She forced her body from the white sheets, the needled air meeting her naked legs with a silvery chill. She gathered a wrinkled sweater and jeans on the bed as she winded about the room, the robe slipping to the floor in a pile.
Just as she was turning the doorknob to leave her home, to drive the car, to see the baby- the faucet. The image of her kitchen faucet came to her like the Virgin Mary must have come to so many painters: clear, fearsome, shining. Sylvia was sure she’d left the faucet on, and not just that one: the guest bathroom, her bathroom, maybe even the shower. She would step out for a moment to witness the miracle of life and suddenly her carpets would be inundated in rushes of water. The spurting bounds of liquid would fill up her house and seep through each window until a massive burst would send all of her china dishes and precious memories out into the street, a reminder to all of Sylvia’s neighbors of her incompetency.
Of course there was a battle. A combative leashing of logic against imagination. Sylvia dropped her bag to the floor.
She hadn’t noticed when buying the apartment but it now seemed, to her, unreasonably cruel that the main hallway made a perfect loop like a racetrack around the tiny space. As long as she kept moving forward, she was bound to end up in the exact same spot no more than 30 seconds later. Always the hamster on the wheel. Check, walk, check, walk, check, walk, uncertainty, and around once more.
Somewhere amid the graying carpet and dripping taps, the ringing came again. Sylvia brought the phone to her ear.
“You’re working with about 10 minutes here Syl. I know you’re messing around with the freaking water. Why can’t you just do this one thing for me?”
“I’m on the way!”
On her fifth round to the shower, a perfect blanket of frustration draped heavily over Sylvia’s body. Sylvia’s breath came in tablespoons, her lungs pushing hard to contain sharp gasps of the air around her. Still her fingers drifted to the crossed metal of the tap’s underside. The particular dryness of rubbing thumb to index finger. The definite space between.
Sylvia eyed her bag at the door. This would be her last time. The phone rang again. Each water source spilled a new grievance in her mind. First the back room. Then the guest bathroom. Her sink. The kitchen. She lifted her bag from the carpet.
She ran her hand along the chipped doorframe remembering that she hadn’t checked the fireplace.
It was a winter baby. She hoped it would hold its swathing closely.
Jaelynn Walls is a junior in high school currently residing in Texas. Her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Riveter Review, and the Emerging Young Artists Playwriting Awards among others. Her work often deals with themes of coming of age in modern America. She hopes to pursue creative writing in college.