It was the middle of March when I was at my wit’s end. The doctor told me to stay home, lie in bed, and by all means never leave my sketchy Minneapolis apartment until further notice. With all my roommates leaving for better places, it was just me, my cat, and three rolls of toilet paper.
I felt as all nineteenth-century women do: stuck in bed with no power to get up—except I wasn’t forcibly strapped into bed and my opinion wasn’t heard. I physically didn’t want to get up. My fever was as high as my favorite Ray Bradbury novel and there was no one to hear my opinion.
What else could I do except follow the tantalizing green swirls on my neon-yellow wallpaper? I never knew the 70s had such bad taste. (My grandmother’s wallpaper at least had villages, bakers, and perfect loaves of bread.) While my cat was playing with toys, I played with the swirls in my mind, picturing dandelions, washing gloves, hazmat suits, and anything to cheer me up in this dismal time.
After four days in quarantine, my TV shows had been binged, my tea had been drunk, and I was left with no entertainment, no human companionship, and no notifications on my social media until a friend called me up. “I hope you’re doing good,” she said. Her voice sounded sweet and kind. “By the way, do you have—”
“No I don’t!” I yelled and slammed the cell phone down. I had my emergency roll of toilet paper cradled in my arm. “There there, it’s okay,” I said. My cat sat at the edge of the bed staring at me while I was petting the paper.
One day, after my only sustenance was cough medicine, I looked at those swirls and thought they were mocking me. What did they want from me? Why are they following me? Why am I on the floor? Is that my gum I couldn’t find for weeks?
My coughing persisted and my fever rose. Worse of all, my bladder was giving me something painful. What I really needed most—what I was dying to have—what I would’ve tapped into my savings and emergency funds—was another roll of toilet paper.
Dragging myself along the floor, smelling something funny, I saw tufts of toilet paper in a trail from the toilet to the cat lying innocently in the living room.
“Sammy.” My voice rose at her. “Why is my toilet paper yellow?” She paid me no heed as she walked past me and hopped onto my bed.
My heartbeat practically dropped. Oh no. Not the last roll.
I don’t exactly remember what happened, but all I can recall is my pitiful, shameless, witchy mess of a self slumped against the wall and cackling. I did it. I finally did it! I had the shredded pieces in my hands! In days to come I would vaguely remember tackling the roll and wrenching it from her tiny demon paws.
Somehow I texted emojis of toilet paper to my friend and she magically came into my apartment. “Were you looking for this?” I cackled. She stared. I held the toilet paper to my bosom. “Because it’s mine.”
I haven’t seen her faint before, but I can’t remember how many times I’ve crawled over her. Someone had to do it. I had serious appointments with the loo.