Few things felt better than lying naked under a down comforter with a soft pillow behind your head, and cool cotton sheets beneath your body.
No wonder it was called a comforter.
Brenda smiled as she rolled onto her stomach, grabbing a peek out the window to her left side. Afternoon clouds filled the sky, from the top of the window to the horizon in the distance. It was just after two o’clock on Saturday, and she was young, and free and naked in bed.
Moments like this Brenda imagined the other kids her age who hadn’t spent their Friday night getting stupid stoned, because they had reasons to get up early. She envied every single one of them, with their reasons to get out of bed in the morning.
Brenda didn’t have a reason to do shit.
Alex stumbled into the bedroom, her two year old daughter trailing behind. Even Brenda’s alcoholic older cousin had a reason to get out of bed before lunch. Alex had children to feed and play with; children she enjoyed spending time with just as much as she enjoyed drinking.
Brenda realized you had to like your reason. You had to want to wake up and get started on each day.
“Morning Brenda,” Alex called cheerfully.
Brenda got out of bed and slipped on a shirt.
“Hey,” she answered.
She needed to brush her teeth. Her joints were stiff and her mouth was pasty. She’d slept too long.
“What’s to eat?”
Alex rummaged through the closet as Robyn fingered clothes on the floor.
“I brought Wendy’s,” she answered. “We went shopping today.”
Brenda scooped her niece off the ground and tickled the child.
“You did?” she cooed.
Robyn giggled and relished the attention.
“Yeah,” Alex replied. “I left Shawn with you.”
Shawn, Alex’s five year old son, was two and a half bulldozers of sheer boy-man power and war-fare – on a good day. Brenda was lucky to be alive, the house still standing.
“Shit, at least wake me up…”
“You don’t even like to watch him, though.” Alex replied from deep within the closet.
“Yeah, but I stand a better chance of stopping the fire he’s itching to start if I’m awake.”
Brenda made her way over a brigade of toys and shoes, into the kitchen, her niece perched on her hip. She unwrapped one of the burgers, and shared it with Robyn.
Outside the blossoms were beginning to show. At the edge of the backyard, tulips had sprouted. Brenda didn’t know who’d planted them. They were just always there in the spring.
It was warm and lovely and the air was sweet with the new season’s turn. Moments like this – when Brenda sat alone outside and smoking, made her feel all right. She liked getting high on a nice day best.
The edges of her eyes warmed, and her lips tingled. Everywhere the sun shone was glowing, and almost instinctively Brenda turned to pass the joint.
But he wasn’t there.
When she was finished, Brenda walked the perimeter of the house and observed her shadow along the wall. She wondered if one were to walk on the sun, would one, could one, see one’s shadow? If one were to walk on the sun, she decided, one would certainly get burnt.
She was burnt right now.
Clad only in the large white tee she’d put on when Alex returned from the store, Brenda cleared the mailbox. There were three bills, a magazine, two junk sales postcards, and two letters. One came from Shawn’s father.
The second was from Brenda’s mother.