Chronicling the Days – Shelley Tepperman

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is by Shelley Tepperman, writing on April 29, 2020.

Image: Shelley Tepperman


My apartment is in utter disarray. It looks tornado-blown: clothes, mingled dirty and clean, everywhere. It’s time to head to my (imaginary) office job. I need to pee, to get dressed, but I can’t find a bra can’t find my underwear can’t find my shoes. Didn’t I fold a stack of underwear yesterday?

My father’s voice reverberates: “It looks like a pigsty in here.”

I dig out a pair of knee-high boots then realize they’ll be too warm. How long has the snow been gone? There’s a bolt of bright pink in one pile of clothes, a dress last worn in my twenties. Not quite clean but it will do. I decide to forego panties (the dress is calf-length, no one will know) and eventually locate some low-heeled pumps. I still need a bra and there’s only the ludicrously padded one that supported my sales-rack prom dress (the décolletage completely unsuited to my broomstick figure but the price tag acceptable to my father).

I smear and blend foundation on my face and look like an unfinished android. I can’t find my lipstick eyeliner telephone. I still need to pee but keep delaying and it isn’t helping. My husband decides to wait for me in the car.

I try to file my quarterly GST. My father, an accountant, taught me to do multiplication in my head but not how to do my taxes. Before pressing send I want to doublecheck my figures so I take screenshots in case the file does not save. Of course it does not save. And on the screenshots the numbers aren’t visible. Where are the numbers?

It’s time to leave for work, my husband’s waiting and I haven’t peed.

I give up on the GST, give up on eyeliner, decide to pee and search for my lipstick in the bathroom.

I haven’t fixed my hair which is too long so I clip it into a knot. At work I’ll sneak into the bathroom and finesse it. I find the lipstick beside a chic grownup purse that always gives me shoulder pain. I hesitate between my backpack and the more professional handbag that seems too large and cumbersome for the few essentials I need to carry. My husband, who in the dream resembles my father—now gone for 39 years—has the patience of a saint. Unlike my father, who I’ve just started to write about, he is kind, generous, indulgent with me. I don’t want to make him late for work. In real life he doesn’t work outside the house except when he travels… I’m going to make him late. No doubt he understands although he doesn’t really, just grasps that I am struggling, doesn’t understand the disorder but accepts it, recalibrating for his impending lateness, he who hates to be late and arranges his life to always be early. He whose patience kindness and generosity has healed the father wound.

I awake dry-mouthed… get up to pee drink water write down this dream.

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