January 12, 2010
Evan knew what his mother’s footsteps up the stairs would lead to. Dinner was over and no phone had rung for him. He opened his bedroom door before her knuckle hit the wood.
“I know,” he said, “I know,” leaping down the stairs.
Audrey didn’t really think Evan forgot what day it was every blessed week, but enough Mondays had slipped by that she didn’t want to leave full cans to chance.
The ritual even had its own sound track: “Variations on Disposal in D Minor” by Evan Pullet, featuring solo improvisations on bottles, bins and rollcarts. Not that it was real music; Audrey had begun long ago to imagine the bangs and crashes as songs piped from the universe. The paper bin often generated easy listening, but not tonight.
“Mom,” Evan yelled from outside. “Mom.”
Audrey stepped out of the house. It was cold; she zipped up her sweatshirt and dug her hands into her pockets, and headed toward the garage.
“What do you need?” she asked.
“Look at this,” he said, pointing to the paper bin. It overflowed with newspapers, cardboard, junk mail and eight-and-a-half-by-elevens.
“Just jam it down. They’ll take it.”
“It’s like this every week, mom. You use too much paper.”
“‘Use’ is the key word here,” she said. “We use paper and send it back to get used again.”
“But we have to grow more trees, make more paper, use more paper, dump more paper—”
“Last week it was too many bottles.”
“Evan, it’s cold out here. Just finish up and we can continue this inside.”
“Where it’s all nice and toasty and green is a four-letter word? You know what? I quit!”
Audrey wasn’t cold now. Just cool.
Carl was rooting around in the fridge when Audrey came inside. They heard Evan slam the front door and pound up the stairs.
“How’d it go?” Carl asked.
“Not too well,” Audrey said. “I agreed to use less paper, starting with his allowance.”
© 2010 Pam Wells