Breakfast with Schrodinger's Husband
by Lara O'Connor
Today Lara emptied urinals, made eggs and toast, and cheerfully woke her husband with a Mary Poppins-style "Good morning!" She was afraid that if he had to make his own breakfast or empty his own urinals, he would fail, or spill them, and come face to face with roiling oceans of loss. He might bemoan his fate, lie on the floor, demand a funeral, or worse—intimacy. Force her to have a conversation with the elephant in the wheelchair. She avoids this at all costs.
Every day she lies by being cheerful. She lies to fend off even the mention of grief. She navigates a careful distance so that his grief and her grief never touch, never collide to form the magnetic storm, planetary in its gravity, that would erase all addresses and any paths out. But the urinals are her nemesis. Grief clouds just with picking them up.
The truth is, there is no safe mechanism for stretching the distance between her and the storm. Lying, as a tool, has long since failed. It's an inadequate bucket for bailing. Every day she lies through her whole morning speech, trying to pretend a dead guy isn't there. But her grief, a doppelgänger of the undamaged man, sits like a shadow mannequin right there at the table. Sunny side up, she serves eggs to both the living and the dead. Breakfast becomes an experiment in physics. She tries her best to partner with duality, to pull off marriage with this painfully odd creature—to have breakfast with Schrödinger's husband.
It's deeply uncomfortable.
Struggle is acceptable if the quest is grand but...pee jugs? Oatmeal? Every day she asks what wisdom could possibly apply. She begs to hold onto her own tiny light, her fiercely guarded temple candle. She tries to find blessing in a radioactive mystery box.
The grandmothers tell her, gratitude is always the root lesson: that each small thank you can be the flip that changes the whole board, like in the game Othello. That thank you can mean the story makes sense in the end, rendering it safe for travel. This information is priceless when she gets lost, when her senses go all wrong and she is stuck inside the map itself, trying to find her way out like a bat reading Braille with its wingtips, feeling for pinpoints of light in the parchment.
She is a good student, and works the lesson. She seeds the nearby meadows with small thank-you’s, hoping someday a miracle might flower big enough to reach her lake of grief, and with its fingers of sheer beauty, vanish it like a magician—make it leap elements, evaporate on the spot.
But nothing works on the pee jugs. There they sit: waiting, for her to learn. They say, pay attention to the body. It requires nothing; it requires battleships. See what God is doing here. Say thank you—for liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs. Listen with the physics of your heart.
She thinks, the scientist had it easier with the cat.
About the Author
Lara O'Connor is the mother of three boys. She's a passionate foodie and wannabe backyard homesteader, though she has yet to plant a garden and acquire chickens. She is new to writing and fell in love with it as a less conspicuous means of daydreaming and excellent way to avoid washing the dishes. She enjoys pondering linear time and has imaginary conversations in her head pretty much constantly.
(Her celebrity crush is Ira Flatow.)