here we are


She is looking for a place to sit, and there isn’t one.

Every chair—and there are a lot of chairs because they love chairs—every chair is piled up piled on taken.

She spins slowly looks around her deciding to do something about it make some progress here or there she is stunned

at the chaos.

Their house is not pristine not neat as a pin not perfectly tidy most days but this is

this is


She starts toward the dishes opens the dishwasher finds a small space squeezes in two more plates a fork a knife


These dishes are clean.

She takes the dirty ones out again thinks to unload the clean ones sees that the drying pad is full too and since their dishwasher doesn’t dry well anymore she’ll start

by putting the dry ones away.

The mixing bowl dislodges two other dishes when she picks it up there is a very loud sound she stops


holding her breath

as if that will help at all.

When her daughter who has been having trouble sleeping who is barely asleep down the hall who woke up screaming the last two nights does not wake up

it is a small miracle.


She looks around walks to the blue chair shoves the stuff onto the floor sits down looks at their Christmas tree

all lit up.

Still holding the bowl still in the coat she never took off an hour ago still wearing her toboggan even

she sits.

Here we are

she thinks

here we are.

They are leaving on a short trip tomorrow a fun one they have been anticipating for months really and

she wonders if they got everything in that load of laundry

the one going around right now

made up of clothes she and her husband cherry-picked sitting on the floor in front of the washer and dryer trying to be sure everyone had clean underwear and one pair of pants at least

she thinks of her husband

him sitting beside her sorting through dirty socks

him handling a last-minute rush at work earlier

him asleep beside her daughter now

and she is hopeful.

He has been sick these last few months

and none of those things

he couldn’t have done any of those things

they would not have been possible just a few weeks ago

for him.

Here we are

she thinks

here we are.

She clicks through the things she didn’t finish today

for work the last day of work the day when everyone was scrambling when everyone was pressing send or leaving or both when inboxes were both frantic and silent for long stretches

there are

the emails she didn’t send the phone calls she didn’t make the bits and pieces she didn’t tie up with a bright shiny bow or any bow at all and check off her list.

She clicks through the errands she ran

the cashier at the Dollar Store with that extraordinary monologue hopping from one customer to the next tattoo across her forehead Santa cap sitting on top talking to everyone cheerful bright never pausing for an answer getting people through a long long long long long long line

the men in the pickup truck and the mini-cooper yelling at each other “suck my cock suck my cock no you suck my cock” out their rolled down windows over a spot in the Target parking lot

the chatter in the long line at the post office where people were relaxed and laughing like of course like this is what i expected like they knew what they were getting into going to the post office on a day like today after all.

She clicks through the things that need to happen before Christmas Day

because they have bought to be honest

almost nothing

almost nothing for their child so far

they haven’t made the gingerbread houses she promised haven’t even bought the ingredients

haven’t finished hanging the last few decorations the ones in the pile beside the tree

haven’t started thinking about Christmas Eve supper

at all.

She wonders if it’s the lemon balm she’s been taking or the almost-Solstice moon or maybe it’s the glow of the Christmas tree

she does love that glow



she does not know how


she is not frantic over all these things mostly


she does not know how

she is occupying a space of fewer absolutes mostly


she does not know how

she is looking forward to this week totally

even though

by her usual standards

they are utterly


She smiles.

Here we are

she thinks

here we are.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, her uncle told her some weeks ago in some other space about some other thing but really about life in general it doesn’t have to be perfect.

She puts the bowl down on the floor beside the chair

takes off her coat

incongruously hangs it up and stuffs the toboggan in the spot where it belongs

walks down the hall

and goes to bed.