A Short Story: The Miasma of my Morning

I wrote this a few years ago while my English I Honors students were writing their own original short stories.  It’s not anything fancy, nor particularly brilliant, but it does highlight how much of my life revolves around spilling coffee and how hard it is to make it out the door with my sanity in the morning.


When my Community Coffee splashes all over my newly purchased Virgo leopard print tunic instead of into my open still half asleep mouth, I know my morning if not my entire teaching day is doomed.

I can’t shake the ominous feeling as the brown coffee stain creeps across my shirt and burns my skin simultaneously. Absentmindedly, I grab a paper towel from a roll on the kitchen counter to clean up the warm, splattered liquid and wipe up my hopes and dreams plotted for the day. As I head to my walk-in to change my ruined shirt, I run through the list of all the tasks I still have to complete before my big observation during first block:

Post the bell ringer to BlackBoard.

Edit my lesson plans because who can spell correctly the first time—not me.

Try to anticipate how SpringBoard Online is going to sabotage the timing of my lesson plans.

Finish my PowerPoint I spent way too much time on.

Make it out the door without another catastrophe . . .

Lamenting the loss of my planned outfit, I pull on a crisp, clean orange and blue polo over my long blonde curls and trade out my red, studded slingbacks for a comfy pair of Chuck Taylors. A glance in the mirror shows reveals I managed to ruin my hairstyle via impromptu costume change. A black handled teasing comb. Some Tressemme. Bam. My hair looks runway worthy.

Time to get to my laptop and finalize my plans.

“Mama!!!!!! I’M AWAKE! I WANT TO ‘NUGGLE”

Oh dear lord, she’s awake. Early.

I hustle to my toddler’s room and see her reaching for her Minnie Mouse pillow, her stuffed tiger, and her fuzzy pink blanket. She gives me a sleepy smile and reaches up with her chubby arms for me to scoop her up. I bundle her into my arms along with her required bed accessories to deposit her at her morning spot on the leather sofa where she’ll kick back and watch YouTube on my phone until it’s time for her to get ready for preschool.

While in transit instead of snuggling her little head into the spot in my neck between my head and my shoulder like she normally does, she looks me in the eye and proclaims at the top of her vocal range, “I WANT A BROWNIE.”

How can such a Little Thing be louder than an entire cheerleading squad during a football game?

“That’s a treat. You can’t eat brownies for breakfast. How about a pancake or a waffle instead? “ I try to persuade. Using the wrong tone could incite a meltdown. I’d rather swim the Pontchartrain during a lightning storm than deal with my hysterically sobbing child who goes boneless during a tantrum. It’s like wrestling a cooked noodle.

“I WANT A PAN . . . “ She chokes after the first syllable, her scrunched up hollering face dissolving into sheer panic. Uh-oh. This was bad. “ACHOO.” Catastrophe achieved.

Yellow globby snot—everywhere. In my hair. On my face. In her hair. On her face. All over her nightgown. All over my second shirt of the morning. It’s now headed for the laundry room instead of headed to the classroom. Do I go ahead and put on a new shirt? Not a chance in H-E-double hockey sticks. My laundry is already spilling out of the hamper because I was too wrapped up in Stephen King’s latest new novel yesterday to even remember that there was a dark tower of dirty clothes to wash. I’ll change my shirt before I walk out the door. It’s just snot—at least it’s not poop.

Little Thing chooses that moment to quip, “I lub you mommy! You happy?”

I reach for a tissue from the box counter and attempt to clean her up, “Of course Snotty Gross Baby. I’m just a bit frazzled this morning.”

I put her on top of her pillow, strip her naked, tuck her pink blanket around her, grab her already poured orange juice and my phone off the kitchen counter to hand her, and kiss her soft hair.

My Macbook Air waits for me on the kitchen table. I’ve got about ten minutes to knock this out before I’ve got to get out the door. I open my silver computer. I press the start button. Nothing happens.

I stare at the black screen. It stares back at me.

I press the button in the upper right hand of the keypad again. I count to ten. Blackness laughs at me.

I pick it up and bang it on the counter. Hey. It works on the students’ Ipads at school when their Ipads go black. Couldn’t hurt to try it on my laptop.

This is no good. I start breathing heavily and bang the laptop against the table in rhythm with my hyperventilation.

My husband struts in, notices I’m attempting murder on my school purchased technology, and stops in his tracks, alarm stark on his newly shaven face.

“What in the world are you doing?”

“I. Can’t. Believe. This. Is. Happening! My stupid computer went kaput, and I’m getting observed today. All of my files for my lesson are on there! And I need to put the finishing touches on them too,” I manage through my tears.

“Honey, just breathe. Let me see what I can do.” He gently nudges me out of my chair and starts working his I.T. doctoring skills on my deceased computer. Lucky for me I’m married to a techy. “Ummmmm, you do know that you’re covered in snot right?”

Crap, I totally forgot. I head for the bathroom and grab a washcloth to get the snot out of my hair and off my face.

When I walk back into the kitchen after my sink bath, my husband laughs, “Your laptop just needed to charge. All you needed to do was plug it in.”

He continues to laugh.

I contemplate grabbing my glass of ice water off the counter and dumping it over his head.

Instead I just start to laugh along with him.

“I think maybe I’m just a little stressed out and sleep deprived,” I tell him after my final laugh fades away.

“No kidding. I’ll get Little Thing ready for school today. Finish up what you need to, and good luck today.”

“Thanks.”

I kiss him and sit down to finish up my work.

I hear Little Thing growl at her daddy when he goes to pick her up to get her ready for school. Then she starts meowing and hissing at him when he tries to wrangle her into her school clothes. Thank god he’s taking care of getting her ready this morning. I don’t think I have enough mental stamina left to deal with a toddler who thinks she’s a cat.

With our little kitty cat on his hip, my husband leans in quickly to kiss me goodbye, and Little Thing meows goodbye to me and licks my face.

They’re gone. And I’m done with my work. I can breathe again.

I pack up my backpack, pour myself some coffee, grab my lunch of leftovers out of the fridge, and head to the door.

I jam out to the Dixie Chicks on my way to work singing the lyrics “Cold Day in July” at the top of my lungs.

All right. I think to myself. I can handle this teaching day. How many catastrophes have I already handled this morning? This observation will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I park my white, in severe need of a trip to car wash, sedan in the parking lot at school with five minutes to spare before I’ve got to clock in.

I open the car door and step down. My Converse make a squishing sound. I lift up my shoe. I glance around the parking lot. It’s covered in goose poop. I’ve stepped down into poop. Great. Now I’m going to smell like poop all day.

At least it’s not toddler poop?

That reminds me. I look down. I never changed my snot covered shirt.

Toddler snot and goose poop.

The miasma of my morning.

Not the perfume I was hoping for, but at least now I know that my observation can’t go badly as I smell.

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