True or False: I Am the Reason My Niece and Nephew Will Have to Wear Gasmasks at Their Children’s Graduation Ceremonies
If you’re the type to believe a somewhat unreliable narrator, listen up:
In my kitchen, there is a stainless steel trashcan with a foot pedal that pops its top, and it’s here, at this very moment, when everything around me comes to a temporary standstill, not entirely dissimilar to Wile E. Cyote’s pre-plummet freeze in time.
It is interrupted, more times than not, by the same voice saying the same thing: “What are you doing?”
“Do you think this can be recycled?” I ask. I ask this every time, turning my hips, my hand, toward her so she can see exactly what it is I’m talking about, so she can take a look and scrutinize it herself, weigh this heavy moment with me.
“Let me look,” and she does, goes right to the top drawer where the Town of Avon Recycling Information 2009 mailer is kept. She looks at the mailer, then looks again at my hand. I can hear her exhale hard through her nose while I wait.
She’s growing impatient with this routine, and actually left a paper copy of a recent newspaper article, printed from the daily’s website, on my laptop about eco anxiety and how it’s affecting people like me, people in my age group. Or maybe those only easily made anxious, or whatever. In response, I left this note for her, penned neatly at the top of the first page, just beneath the web address from which it came: “Duly noted. Emailed web link next time, maybe?” She didn’t talk to me for, like—oh man, for what felt like a long time after this.
She says, “Is the paper coated?”
I say, “Sorta.”
“No, come on,” she says. She fucking always says this. “You know what I mean. Is it coated or not?”
My calf is quivering now from having held my foot and the trashcan’s lid in the same position for however fucking long now. I say, “Okay, yeah, it’s lightly coated.” I check this with my nails.
“Throw it away,” she says, and then the drawer slams. “The mailer doesn’t specify types or weights of coatings, so throw it away.”
And so I do, after she’s already left the room. I lower my hand into the trash and drop it so that it doesn’t make a noise, as if that will help it have less impact.
When I sit on the soft next to her, she puts her arm around my neck and brings her lips to a place above my ear. “You did a good job,” she says. “You really did.”