Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three collections of stories, most recently I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015). He teaches at Missouri State University, where he is the Literary Editor of Moon City Press and Editor of Moon City
Review. In 2009, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
close the blinds, shut and lock the door plug in and turn off your phone record your shows, the shows you’ll watch later call your mom, call your dad, call that sibling/friend you’ve been meaning to call pay a bill, even if one isn’t due make the morning coffee check for milk, bread, eggs sharpen your knives do the dishes, or at least get them soaking check the blinds check the mail if you’re expecting a package, don’t answer the door, no matter what it is, no matter how long it will sit on the porch, even if the guy takes it back to the truck have something to eat, something light, a balance of carbs and protein avoid sugar avoid alcohol avoid diuretics take your medications, skipping stimulants and depressants wash them down with water, but not too much water go to the bathroom take off all your clothes throw the laundry from the washer into the dryer don’t forget the fabric softener check the lint trap throw the dryer clothes in a basket, fold them if you have time check the blinds check the sump pump check the weather go to the bathroom stretch focus on your legs and shoulders, but don’t forget the neck wash your face wash your hands resharpen the knives brush your teeth floss gargle go to the bathroom check the blinds check the locks check your phone blow your nose wipe your face with a fresh towel put the towel in the laundry check the blinds go to the bathroom clean yourself with soap look in the mirror take a deep breath recite an empowering affirmation check the blinds return to the mirror rerecite the affirmation sing your favorite song make a happy face make a determined face make a face like you’re not making a face at all squeeze any blemishes wash the wounds check the knives stretch again, seeing if you’re still loose return to the mirror make a happy face check the blinds one more time with the affirmation, smiling check the blinds tell yourself you’re ready for this repeat it, out loud yell it so anyone who might be in the house can hear check the blinds get upstairs, lifting your heart rate avoid the creaky stair turn on the water perfect the temperature lay out shampoo, conditioner, body gel, luffa go to the bathroom check the mirror check the water step in the tub shower like you mean it, but don’t worry: you’ll do it again, after