Life is just another load of laundry waiting to be washed, or another mess waiting to be cleaned up. In Cora Gottlieb’s case, it was another meal waiting to be made for the next workday. She always hated making her lunch. It was a waste of time, and quite messy. If only peanut butter and jelly wasn’t so sticky. Why can’t mom stop heckling me about buying lunch at work? She always complains that I’m just wasting money, she thought to herself. It’s sad that I let my mom boss me around. I’m twenty-five years old for Christ’s sakes! Cora didn’t enjoy arguing with Joanne at all. Her mom had a talent for making her feel insure about her points, despite the fact she actually had sound reasoning.
Cora couldn’t help but notice her peanut butter and jelly Jackson Pollock, which now stained the counter. “You know what, fuck it,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “I think I’m just going to buy lunch tomorrow. Hell, it’s only three bucks for a turkey burger and fries.” It was a good deal. The small glimmer of pleasure gave her something to look forward to. A menial job of paper pushing could get so dull. Fast. Sometimes, it’s the small joys in life that prevent the noose from getting tighter around the neck.
Cora found little pleasure in her job, with the exception of getting to leave. She worked at Rocket Corp., a company that produced medical devices. Everyone and their brother worked at the local corporation…literally. It was one of the downfalls of having a large business in a small town. Cora saw everyone she lived near. If she had her way though, none of them would enter her field of vision. People gossip, and Cora didn’t feel like being the next victim of their conversation. This wasn’t due to insecurity. She just didn’t like the distorted images of people painted by gossip. When you get called “weird” enough in your life though, you slowly care less about what others think of you.
Gehenna, New York wasn’t exactly the most pleasant place to live. It was loaded with unintelligible rednecks, and small fry politicians who thought that they were something more. It lacked the artistic types Cora longed for. “If only there were more pianists like me… or even some artists or writers,” she sighed to herself. Cora couldn’t talk to anyone about her feelings or deep thoughts. They just wouldn’t get it. The people of Gehenna lacked the breadth of knowledge to explore the mechanics of a Liszt piece, or the meaning behind a Picasso painting. All they could do was gossip, thus creating their own tortured isolation from one another. How she yearned for someone to talk with about the bigger things in life.
Cora wiped her accidental artwork off the counter. “Ha, it looked like a Jackson Pollock just now,” she laughed. “What looked like a Jackson Pollock?” said a sharp voice. It cut the air, like an icy wind darting across a valley. Joanne had just walked into the room. She could see that Cora was attempting to make a lunch for work. God, the girl can’t do anything to help herself, she thought. Joanne rolled her eyes at the mess. This had “Cora” written all over it.
“It’s nothing, mom,” Cora said coldly. She just hoped her mom would buzz off and leave her alone. “Oh it’s nothing, alright…” said her mom, sarcastically. She eyed a spot of jelly that Cora missed with the cloth. “Why do you always have to make a mess, Cora?” her mom asked. It wasn’t like she was expecting an actual answer. “Why can’t you get a life?” Cora asked back, bitterly. She just wanted to be left alone, after a dull and exhausting day of work. Her job demanded that she get up early in order to be there. It was a cruel fate, since Cora’s internal clock was set on “night owl”. She felt that the night was better anyways. Her creative work flourished then.
“Is that anyway to talk to me?” Cora’s mom asked. It was as if she trying to prove to herself she could actually be a mother. “Whatever, lets just drop it,” Cora said in defeat. She was not in the mood for a vocal sparring. It wasn’t worth it. “Fine, but you need to show me more respect,” she retorted, demanding obedience. “Ok, whatever you want,” Cora groaned, giving a hollow answer to a hollow person. Joanne, extremely annoyed, left her to clean out the sticky cloth. She then decided to go upstairs to check on Frank. He would probably want his Gin and Tonic soon.
“Honey, I brought you your drink,” Joanne stated, to her partially inebriated husband. The fatigue hung on her face like a well-worn expression should. “Thanks, sweetie,” he replied, to his exasperated wife. Frank was a terrible alcoholic. His back pain was the muse that inspired the habit. He was missing the discs in between the lumbar part of his spine. It caused him great pain on a day-to-day basis. As time went on, the pain eventually worsened. It was getting to the point where he couldn’t even sit in his desk chair, without fidgeting uncontrollably. He took to the drink ever since, and never looked back. Gin and Tonic became his new lover, and his wife was only a mere memory of his personhood. He drank all day, even at work. There was little room left for his family anymore. This threw off the balance of the household. If Frank weren’t wallowing in his drunkenness, then he would be paying more attention to Joanne. In turn, this would cause her to get off of Cora’s case. There was no harmony.
“Jo, don’t be so hard on Cora,” Frank said, sympathetically. He was able to hear the conversation between the two women downstairs. “I do it because I love her. I don’t want her acting like a savage,” she sighed. “I raised her better than that.” Joanne felt frustrated all the time already. She never really knew the true cause of her frustration, but Cora wasn’t exactly helpful with relieving it. “Jo, Cora plans on moving out, and getting her own place. She will as soon as she has enough money,” he said, still taking his daughter’s side. “Her goal, is to put a down payment on the little cottage across town.”
The little wood cottage was perfect for a single person, or a married couple without children. Cora wanted to get her hands on it, before someone else did. She knew she only had about a year, if that, before the place sold. Despite the fact it wasn’t a particularly interesting place, the town of Gehenna brought newcomers all the time. This could prove to be problematic for Cora. There was no doubt that any newcomer could be interested in the place. It was clearly time to move out. Besides, she couldn’t stand living with her parents. It would be worth cutting the midnight trips to McDonald’s with friends, just to be free.
“You have to give her some time. It’s hard when you are a young woman. Let alone, one who has only been out of college for a few years,” he explained. Frank made a good point, and Joanne knew it. It was difficult to make it out there. Plus, the bad economy made it harder. Even Joanne noticed the price of steak went up, since she last went to Wegmans. The local grocery store was becoming pricier, and she hated it. “Ok Frank, you win,” she said. Joanne was getting close to her boiling point. “Honey, I’m not babying Cora…” Frank paused, before he could finish his thoughts. Joanne stomped downstairs and into the living room, cutting him off. She had had enough of their shit. It was time to decompress, take a shower, and get ready for bed. Besides, they all had to go to work tomorrow. Frank was a lead engineer in the quality department at Rocket Corp. He made sure that each medical device was sufficient in function, and appearance. Joanne was the head secretary at the main desk in the lobby. She was in charge of getting people to where they needed to go. If only she could do the same with her own family. Cora worked in the department that partnered with her dad’s. Writing up complaint reports was her main task. If you bitched about it, she managed it.
Cora finished putting her nightgown on, and curled up into her pink pony comforter. She had always loved kid themed objects. Things such as animated Disney movies, were one those guilty pleasures of hers. She was old enough to realize their illusion of life, yet it didn’t make them any less appealing. Cora then stretched towards her nightstand, and reluctantly set her alarm clock for 7:15 A.M. “Mornings are so evil, Tubbs,” she said to her obese kitty. Tubbs yawned, and stretched out his orange, tiger- stripped body. He practically covered the foot of her bed. “Yeah, my thoughts exactly,” Cora sighed. “Mornings are the worst.” She wrapped the comforter more tightly around herself. This small action revealed her insecurities about sleeping alone. Cora then closed her eyes, and prepared for sleep to slowly creep in. She did the same thing every night to help herself fall asleep: she fantasized. The first image in her mind was that of a gorgeous piano player. He had thick, curly hair, which was alluring. She had always dreamed of marrying a fellow pianist. This was so they could play and learn together, all while having a romantic relationship. It was flawless, but more importantly it was how it should be. Just because something seems perfect, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a right to reality.
The unnamed pianist gazed at her. He was edging her to come closer to him. Their lips met, after he showed Cora how to perform the perfect trill for “La Campanella”. It was one of her favorite Liszt pieces. Cora soon found herself wrapped in the man’s embrace. She could feel his well-toned chest against her long brown curls. They flowed down the slender back with ease. Cora was in heaven. She was with a man who not only adored her, but shared her passions as well.
If only it was real. Cora’s dream shattered, as she awoke abruptly at 3:00 A.M. “Why thank you, bladder. You’ve just ruined the best dream I’ve had in months,” Cora said, sarcastically. She forced her groggy self up to use the bathroom. After stumbling around, Cora eventually found the light switch. The poor girl was drunk with exhaustion. This made it hard for her to become oriented with the bathroom’s surroundings. “If I trip on my toothbrush charger one more time, I’m going to be so pissed,” Cora grumbled to herself. The last time she needed to use the bathroom at night, she tripped over the jutting cord. Cora quickly finished up, and curled back into a ball under the comforter. Within an instant, she was back asleep. The dream was over, though. It had been interrupted. She found it annoying when these things happened. A part of her accepted that life was meant to work out like this. There was always something blocking her at every turn. This prevented Cora from enjoying even the smallest of things. It looked like she could only expect a dreamless sleep for now. The day would quickly follow, and the dreamless reality would be even less forgiving. It was such a magical tragedy.