Hit snooze at 7am, because I’d fallen back. I was thrilled to have been dreaming, even if it wasn’t a fun dream, probably sparked by the damn garbage truck that screeches and rumbles like it’s tearing up the street. Joe’s out of town, so every time the house creeks, I think: home invasion robbery. It has been raining all week. There are a lot of extra noises: branches falling, water dripping, probably the house sinking in the clay-filled mud. But it’s dark out when I wake up, which I like.
“Mommy, I have a runny nose,” Tess says. I can hear it right away. She has another cold. A week after the last one. Really??
Back from my walk with Pepper, I find the pumpkin Ronan carved last weekend at a birthday party sprouting blue-black mold. The skin is still shiny orange, but the cut out eyes and crooked mouth are filled with a fine, almost sparkling hairy growth. My green garden can has not been picked up yet – I have to get that pumpkin in it before I drive to school. I have a feeling the pumpkin will be too soft to move, but I’m not sure.
“Ronan, you’ve got to see this,” I say rummaging for a paper bag, thinking this will work. He studied mold once in pre-school. He likes gross things. I figure this is a good idea. “Look at the mold.”
Tess follows. “That’s disgusting.”
But we all look closer. It’s kind of cool, the black fur sticking through the pumpkin eyes. I should have taken a picture.
“I need you to hold open the garbage can,” I say to Ronan. “This is what happens when you carve pumpkins too early.” I say that because I know that by tomorrow, he will be begging to carve the still whole pumpkins I’ve lined up on our porch steps. Every year we bicker. “Today?” “No.” “Please, mommy.” “No.” “Why not?” “It will rot.”
“It might be too soft already,” I say wrapping it with a piece of newspaper. It was all I could find and is allowed in the green bin – legal for compost. I hope it will do the job.
No such luck. It squishes in my hands in a most unpleasant way. It’s foul. I gag. “Ew,” I say, unable to control myself, “Yuck.”
Ronan gags too.
“Don’t throw up,” I yell at him. “We’re gonna be late for school.” Please, no puke.
I run back inside for a plastic bag, then back to the porch. Tess is watching with one eye. Pepper loiters in the threshold of the front door, growling at the neighbors walking by. I cover the now deformed squash with the Pavilions bag, like a giant pile of dog poo(and equally disgusting), but I can’t get it all. I have to touch the remaining chunk with my bare hands. It’s like liquid. My stomach turns but I make it down the steps.
“Mommy, I puked,” Ronan calls out as I’m running back up the stairs. “And Pepper is eating it.”
“Don’t look,” I say, shoeing Pepper away, thinking, I should let her clean it up so I won’t have to. “Go brush your teeth.” I yell to Ronan.
“See,” he says pointing to his vomit. “Right there.”
Their bags aren’t packed. Tess says her new shoes are too big. I set the alarm. (That always scares the shit out of them. They think the police will come if we don’t get out in 45 seconds. I let them believe this. In fact, I probably told them this.)
“The cereal spilled,” Ronan says when he grabs his binder from the table as if the Rice Krispies flung themselves all over the floor.
“What?” I cry.
“Don’t worry, Pepper’s got it,” he says.
Beep, beep, beep – and we’re out the door.