You wake up at 9 a.m. Your body rhythms haven’t yet changed enough for sleeping in to be automatic. But what has changed are the dreams. You go on great adventures with high stakes and real feelings, or at least more real than anything you’ve felt lately. You roll over and go back to sleep. The dreams are a reprieve from the monotony.
It’s well after noon before you wake, groggy and thirsty and hungry. You’re always hungry.
You cut two rectangles of quality cotton or similarly high thread count fabric 9.5 by 6.5 inches and set them aside.
You make breakfast for yourself, eggs usually, sometimes something more substantial. Today you decided to break out the waffle iron, make the day special. Instead you make enough to feed a family and you eat yourself sick on increasingly soggy waffles throughout the day.
You cut four lengths of cloth, about 15 by 1 inches. You fold a strip in half lengthways and secure with pins. Sew it together along the long side and one of the short sides. When finished, you turn the tube of fabric inside out and repeat with the remaining three strips. You remake them into something useful.
It’s a feeling of anxiety and bone deep weariness that leads you to wander your home. Walking back and forth from the bed to the refrigerator, from the window to the couch. You open each kitchen cupboard, each drawer. You take out your sourdough starter and sniff it. You shake it and watch it jiggle. You open and close the freezer no less than seven times before giving in and taking out the ice cream—for some reason, it’s the ice cream you ration. Everything else you devour.
You pin the pieces of fabric and the straps of the mask together, the patterned sides of the fabric facing each other and the straps tucked inside. One end of each strap is pinned between each corner. You will sew them all together around the perimeter, connecting them irrevocably, making it so ripping is the only thing that will separate them.
Once you sew around the perimeter you will leave a small gap. You will use this gap to turn the mask inside out in the same way as you have been. You can see the end. It seems in sight. But there is always more work to do.
Your house has never been this clean and never been this dirty. You clean and clean and clean, but there is always some spot in the corner of your eye. It taunts you. You attack it with vengeance.
Your mask could work now. You sew up the hole and it seems serviceable as a rectangle with four straps to tie to you. Four straps to tie you down. But it’s not complete. Your need pleats. Like you are now some school girl whose skirt must be pressed, you need crisp pleats. Pleat the mask three times, no more, no less. You pin the pleats and now you must sew them but be careful not to prick your fingers. You sew around the perimeter once, then once more for strength. It needs to be strong to protect you outside.
But you don’t go outside. You rewatch old shows and new ones too. You discover sordid worlds and let them play and play. You have to remind them you’re still there, continuing to watch. It’s dark out. It was light out when you started. But you sew by lamplight, and you finish. The lighting is too dark to take a good picture of your completed marvel. So you wait for the next day. For tomorrow, when you wake at 9 a.m.