The radio informs her that it is exceptionally hot. As if she needs it to tell her forty-three degrees Celsius is hot.
The word degree means step; her city, her state, has taken forty-three steps into the furnace. The north wind, determined like the sun to make her day one to remember, whispers fiery jokes in her ear. Her house is an oven, her couch, her cushions, her bookshelves and television are like baked, finger-tip hot fruit cakes.
Babies, she thinks, should be naked on days such as this. They should lie on the floor, on several thicknesses of towelling, peeing insolently, drumming their tiny heels against the towels, cooing benignly while low-floor breezes eddy and swirl around them.
Would we all could be babies on days like this, she thinks, and enjoy peeing on the floor at least once without feeling ashamed. When it is hot, the room in which the babe lies should be cool, but not cold. Babies must not, like furniture, bake nor freeze but are best kept at a medium temperature.
The general consequence of heat, unless one is a floor dwelling infant, is immobility. Today, she thinks while unbuttoning her shirt, heat is an abject lover clinging to her body, rendering her incapable of movement.
She removes her shirt, turns the radio off and unzips her skirt. She drags the overfed parasite of heat around with her, stops to remove her skirt and continues to the linen closet. Her swollen feet seem to walk on hot, prickly balloons. She takes a towel, then another and another and walks back into the family room to spread the towels, one atop the other, on the floor. She fetches a pillow, two pillows, one for her head, one to place under her knees to ease her back. Maybe, she thinks as she arranges the pillows, she should place her bloated feet on a chair, so they are higher than her head? Is this why feet swell during a heat wave? Is it their one chance to be above the head for a while? If I were a foot, she thinks, I would make the most of the heat, just to know what the landscape above an ankle is like.
She fetches a dining chair but the effort drains her. She staggers into her kitchen with its west facing, fruitlessly shuttered window and pours herself a glass of not quite cool tap water. She returns to the family room, places the glass of water on the floor then peels her damp underwear from her body. She lies naked on three thickness of towelling, her feet on the dining chair, and gazes at the ceiling. Although she does not know it, because her radio is off, the temperature rises to forty-five degrees then takes another two cruel steps. She lowers her feet and dozes while low-floor breezes eddy and swirl around her. She decides not to pee because the pillow beneath her knees is her husband’s.
© Janet Thomas