"Hannah, you have to go to
Shelly waited patiently for Hannah
to reply; she put her hand on her hip, checked her watch. After
a while a sound emerged from the bedclothes that might have been
Hannah saying something but might just as easily have been Hannah
"Get up" Shelly said.
She felt like how she imagined her mother must have felt, telling
her own children to get up; that wasn't something Shelly had ever
imagined having to feel.
"I don't wanna" she heard
"That's . . . kind of immaterial,
sweetie" Shelly said, trying to sound pleasant. She was starting
to feel cold: she hadn't yet put on her winter jacket, though she
knew rationally that it was probably colder inside the house than
outside. Autumn had arrived, just like that, all of a sudden, and
now everything was shivering. She wondered if there'd be frost on
the grass this morning.
"Is it cold?" Hannah asked
from the comfort of the bed. Shelly could see a few strands of her
hair, thick and black, and that was all: nothing else of Hannah
Instead of answering, Shelly pulled
the blankets back from Hannah's feet. Immediately they recoiled,
like a cat's paws at the sting of a bee, and Hannah made her loudest
"Oh god Shel that's
not funny! Cover me up, cover me up!"
"You have to get out of bed"
Shelly said again. "You have to go to work."
"But you have to do it, all
"Hannah, don't make me just
whip the covers off. I'll do it, you know." Shelly wondered
if she actually would. Just for an instant she was appalled at the
thought that she might.
"Why do I have to go to work?"
"Because they pay you, and
you pay the gas company, and that's how the heater works. And it's
not even winter yet and this is how cold the mornings are already."
Shelly waited to see if this would
make a difference. Eventually, finally, Hannah threw the blankets
back from over her head. She looked at Shelly, bleary-eyed.