You get up at 6:40 in the morning on Saturday, emerging from the covers in your ash grey, silk Armani pajamas. You slip on your slippers and go to the bathroom, probably to brush your teeth, shave and look in the mirror. Of course you want to look in the mirror. You’re devastatingly handsome, with a fine mass of dark brown hair, a square jaw and a winning, Colgate smile. After contemplating yourself for a bit, you return to the room and slap on some cologne, self-confidence captured in a bottle of luxurious Chanel for men EDT. The room will surely come alive in your scent. Then you make yourself a nice, hot pot of coffee. It boils and bubbles on the living room table. The curtains to the living room are always open- you make sure they are. You like your room sunny, fresh and accessible. After a satisfying cup of addiction, you change out of your pajamas and put on tight running shorts, Adidas, and a loose tshirt with your participation in the 2006 Terry Fox run stamped all over the front. You make sure you have your sleek 32 gigabyte Ipod touch in hand and your Nike Air sneakers on before you open the door to go downstairs for your daily run down Yonge street. Before you leave you sniff your armpits. Fragrant. Perfect.
You get up at 11:30 in the morning on Saturdays. Saturdays are the days you treat yourself. You don’t have class, or work, or any obligations. You roll out of bed in your floral print two piece pajamas, digging your feet into the soft fur rug beneath your bed every time before you stand up. You don’t put on make up on Saturdays, and just slip into anything in your wardrobe; sometimes it’s your grey cotton dress, sometimes tight denim shorts and a crinkly white linen tank top. You put your ginger coloured hair in a bun, a messy bun with some ginger strands still left hanging about your shoulders after. You toast bagels in your toaster on Saturdays, then slather the warm slices with a thick, nearly 2 inch layer of Philadelphia’s cream cheese. While you eat you pretend to be the Philadelphia cream cheese angel, moving your lips and imitating like no one can see you. Then you get up, probably put the dishes into the kitchen sink to wash later, after you’ve treated yourself. You pick up your purse, sometimes the shiny purple Versace, sometimes the boxy brown Ralph Lauren, and leave to cash a cheque, then to go shopping. When you return it’s always past 5:00. You waste no time, only quickly opening the door to put down all your shopping bags beside the crowded shoe rack. The door will soon close again. Saturdays are also the days you bang him, that guy who lives downstairs. You’re not sure you like his personality much but he sure is rich and he works out a lot. This is how you always justify it.
You come back from classes at 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday. You’re a mess, as usual. There’s paint on your face. Your hair is stringy and greasy, a dull dirty blonde colour. You throw your school bags in a pile on a chair in your kitchen, along with the heavy canvas you have to carry around. You’re also carrying a box of Tim Horton’s Timbits. That’s your guilty pleasure, Timbits. These you set down carefully on the kitchen table. You pull down your t-shirt, your t-shirt that has ridden up from all the friction caused by your multiple schoolbags and your canvas banging heavily against you, a t-shirt with “Ryerson University- Fine Arts” scrawled nicely, diagonally across the front. A nice t-shirt, but it’s also been splattered so much by paint the words are nearly unrecognizable. You wear it all the time anyway. You sit down at the kitchen table, open the box of Timbits, ready to consume your prize. The Timbits emerge from their box one by one, each chosen in its special order by your sticky fingers. You have a chocolate glazed one first, finish it in two lingering bites, the chocolate staining your upper lip and colouring your teeth. You take another one, this time a honey cruller. This you finish in one bite, taking your time, however, to savour the flavour as your teeth disfigures the roly-poly Timbit slowly, the honey lingering on your tongue and the sticky doughnut dough resting on the roof of your mouth, the Timbit finally tumbling down your throat, washed down with your saliva. You finish them all in this fashion, a light pink strawberry filled one next, then a shimmering white glazed plain one. You are a disgusting glutton, you devour those Timbits, slowly but surely, not even stopping to wipe the red streak of paint off your face or the glistening sweat off your brow as you munch, groaning from satisfaction.
You get up at 11:00 in the morning on Sundays. You probably get up late because you spend all your last nights with that bastard from downstairs. Sundays are the days you go to your parents’ house. Your parents live in Scarborough, far enough to be inconvenient to visit but not far enough for you to make an excuse not to visit them. You get ready by putting on your most appropriate outfit. Usually you put on jeans and ballet flats, not those jeans that fit you impossibly well, but the loose ones with the flared and frayed ends. You wear a conservative shirt and a cardigan, hiding your ginger hair in a black beret, surely too hot for summer. You lean towards your bedroom vanity mirror at 11:30 on Sundays, applying pearl-coloured eye shadow chosen carefully from a tiny YSL makeup compact. You then fill your bag with things, your big grey Tommy Hilfiger leather bag you got from Winners with a laptop you never use, files that contain printed pages of nothing, stationary, notebooks, anything lying around gathering dust on your desk. You top off the pile with a smart copy of Maclean’s and The Toronto Star. Anything to maintain the illusion. You wish you were actually doing something you could slow off, something fabulous and creative and talented like that Ryerson art student who lives below you, the one you always talk about, instead of always pretending. But you zip the bag. You don’t have lunch at home on Sundays, because you need to spend it with your parents. You leave the house too quickly, anxious to catch the TTC at Yonge and Bloor, East to take you to the Scarborough center and then far away to that other home.
You take a nap at around 2:00 in the afternoon on Monday. Surely on Mondays you used to work, but now you’re far too old. Your skin sags, where your cheeks used to be are now two convex sallow dents. You have wrinkles around your eyes, and around your nose and around your mouth and around your neck, and everywhere. Wrinkles on your ears too. You can’t walk well, shuffling about your apartment to go to the bathroom, struggling to lower yourself, to sit on a knitted wool covered chair. You wear reading glasses, but you still squint terribly when you read. Before your nap on Monday it was Ivanhoe. You no longer read the bible, though it sits by your bedside table, a red felt bookmark marking the place of nothing in particular. Perhaps you no longer believe in it. One thing is for sure, you do not pick up the bible on Monday. You are a fast reader though. After a significant stack of pages through Ivanhoe, which only took you 32 minutes, it’s 2:00 o’clock and you must feel tired because you get up slowly, shuffle to your bedside and crawl in. Your covers are thick and heavy, just the right weight to press your light, dry body safely down on the mattress. But you don’t sleep well. You are wakened in ten minutes by something. You look up at the ceiling. It’s upstairs, as usual. It must be that redhead girl making a racket. You silently shake your fist. You can only shake your fist, alone by yourself, sitting in your heavy bed, your silhouette raging in the window. But you can’t do anything. You slide, slowly, back into the covers, and try to go back to sleep. But the phone rings. You pick it up, your expression hopeful, listen, then put it down again. It was probably “This is the second notice that the factory warranty on your vehicle is about to expire…” just junk. You close the blinds.
You get up at 9:00 in the morning on Mondays. Mondays are the days you clean your apartment, so you stay in all day on Mondays. There used to be a time when you kept a job, a job that you went to 5 days a week, in which you would wear smart suits, use a laptop, and Monday was the most important day. But now you don’t have that job anymore. The boss asked you whether you wanted to work overtime, get a bonus. Made comments about your ginger hair, about the very nice fit of your two-piece Prada business suit. You didn’t want to work overtime, but you didn’t know that that meant losing your job too. It wasn’t his fault. He liked you too much- but you regret it now. Sometimes you talk about it. it’s so frustrating; you’ve come to realize you’re good at overtime, but now it’s too late. Now you’re working overtime with other people, but it really isn't as proper. All this angst and regret motivates you to clean the apartment on Mondays. You like to feel like you’re actually doing something with your life, turning a new page every week. So every Monday you get up bright and early, stretch, have cereal, and go downstairs to the Shoppers Drug Mart at Yonge and Bloor. The store’s so close it’s visible from your apartment and everything in the vicinity. Even with that short distance, though, you jog to the store, ginger hair flying, always energetic and anxious to buy whatever new cleaning products you need to cast new magic on your apartment. But when you get back to your home, opening the door and shutting it behind you, you sit down on the floor and you’re overwhelmed. You sit there for at least 30 minutes, sometimes more than an hour. Sometimes you lay out all of the new cleaning products you bought in front of you. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you do both, in either order. But you always do clean, picking yourself up from the floor and starting at once with sheer determination. You clean at an outrageously fast pace, scrubbing hard at the glass top of the coffee table with your rag and your Mr. Clean. “Cleans glass surfaces to a streak-free shine”. You scrub hard at everything, baptizing everything in Mr. Clean’s magic. At one point you rub your own wrists together too. Streak-free?
You make dinner at 6:00 in the evening on Tuesday. You have the recipe book open in front of you, on the kitchen counter. The cutting board is out. So is the knife, the wooden spoon, and the trio of spices. The skillet’s on the stovetop, waiting to be heated. All the ingredients for dinner are bulging out of the yellow grocery bag from No Frills, sitting on the other side of the recipe book. But something’s missing. You aren’t starting. You’ve realized you’ve forgotten to buy a crucial ingredient. You hit yourself on the forehead, not believing that you could be so stupid when you’re already almost half a century old. You can only go borrow something from the neighbors. You disappear out into the hallway, going two doors down to that twenty something year old redhead’s apartment. She’ll have what you need. You knock on the door and it opens- she’s standing there, looking like she just got back from somewhere, her ginger hair in disarray. You ask for eggs, and she flutters back in and gets them, coming back with half a dozen in her hand and a dazzling smile. She gives you all of them, tremendously generous, and you are extremely grateful. You return back to your apartment and now you can start making dinner. As you’re cooking up the delightful concoction, the stove starts to smoke. The smoke is black, and you hastily grab a fan, trying to fan the smoke away from the fire alarm. You’re fanning and fanning, and forgetting other things bubbling on the stove and burning in the oven. When you do realize, you frantically rush around, trying to salvage your meal, but it’s too late. The doorbell rings. At 7:30 in the evening on Tuesday your husband comes home. He’s carrying a bouquet of flowers and some silly balloons, and when you open the door he pulls you into his arms and kisses you. You lead him into the kitchen and show him the ruin of a dinner you created. But he doesn’t mind. He’s smiling, picks you up and spins you round and round, and you and your husband are the picture of happiness. The balloons say happy anniversary.
You get up at 8:00 in the morning on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days you volunteer at your local library. You baby-sit young toddlers at the library on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, kids whose parents are too busy to give a shit about them but also too cheap to send them to daycare. You have to keep them entertained from 9:00 to 5:00, those horrible little creatures, with only a half an hour lunch break in between. You hate it, but you always go. You always go, probably because you’d like to think you’re actually doing something with your time, that you’re still on the schedule of a workingwoman. So you endure, for yourself. When you come back from volunteering, it’s always later than 5:30. You open the door, throw off your Jimmy Choo heels, and hurl your empty briefcase on the floor. You undo the buttons of your light blue, tight collared shirt, so the lace outline of your breast is visible as you breathe, and your frame moving up and down, you shuffle to the living room. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5:45 you curl up on your soft red couch and look out the window, your face and its ginger red frame illuminated by the sunlight. You press your soft body to the glass, and you reach under the coffee table, fumbling for you cigarettes. Camel, Turkish Silvers, always. You light one with a wavering ginger flame, though there is no wind, just your trembling hand. Deep inhale. You open the window slightly, tapping your cigarette, and the ashes rain down on the city below.
408 is an empty apartment. It’s interior is derelict; the paint is peeling off its once fresh, yellow-coloured walls. A few stray wooden boards lie about on the dusty floor, probably once put to good use but now destined to remain there, motionless, useless, for who knows how long. Some disproportionate nails stick out here and there from the splintering wood. 408 is an apartment waiting for someone to inhabit it. On Friday, apartment 408 is empty as always. It won’t go out and have fun. It won’t have a nice dinner and a date and then hit the clubs. It won’t go to work, take a run, have a nap, cook dinner or eat Timbits. It will sit there, empty as usual, arms open, waiting.
You don’t get up until 5:00 in the evening on Fridays. Fridays are your lazy days. They’re also your sexy days. You never close the blinds on Fridays. You get up naked. You always check the sunset, your smile like watercolours in the window. I can count your every eyelash as you blink. Then you put on your black slip, my favorite black slip. It tumbles down the curves of your body like an inky black waterfall. You gather your hair and then let it fall, that ginger red blaze setting the pale, porcelain nape of your neck on fire. You put on your forest green trench coat, which is gathered just tightly enough about you at the waist to accentuate all your mountains and valleys, your extraordinary geography. Your forest green trench-coat is hot for the summer. You leave at 6:00 pm on Fridays, slipping on your 10 inch black Manolo Blahnik sling-back stiletto heels as you make for the door. You are never late. You are eager on Fridays; you need money, and you know I need you. I know you go downstairs in the elevator. I know you walk across the lobby. I know you cross the street. I don’t have to watch. I know you come upstairs when you reach my building, press the doorbell of my door and wait for me to come. On Fridays I walk away from that window I stay at for far too long. I put my binoculars away too, carefully, in the top shelf of my clothes-drawer, snuggled in warmly, hidden between my folded underwear. On Fridays at 6:00 in the evening I open the door for you, and you say “Oh baby, it’s been so long,” slipping out of your trench coat, your heels, your black slip. And I say “I know”.