A Call From Debra

Debra would call, I would pick up. Why did you pick up, Debra would ask, and I would think: Why did you call? but I would say, No one else is here. 

Well we don’t answer the phone like that, she would say. How do we answer the phone? I would reply. We answer the phone, Hello this is Debra’s. But this is the factory, I would point out. In other words: This isn’t Debra’s.

This is the factory.

I know that, she would say, But if you want to keep baking granola for me you will answer the phone, Hello, this is Debra’s. Can I say, Hello, this is the factory? I would ask still thinking This isn’t Debra’s. And she would hiss: No. Customers don’t need to think about the difference. Now, she would go on, every time she would go on: Now, what’s in the oven?

Maple Majesty, I would answer, or whatever was in the oven, and I would flash to that moment, ten, twenty minutes from then when I would remove the sheet from the oven and get to smash the granola in a plastic bin and crunch the pieces up in my gloved hands and funnel it all into plastic bags and cart it across the parking lot to the store (Debra’s). There was often snow.

Did you add the ginger? she would ask. Someone forgot ginger yesterday. Really? I would say and she would say: Yes, really. That was Todd, I would lie suddenly and Debra would cry, Why didn’t you step in and help?! and I would look across the metal tables at the bins of ginger like bins of hardened organs and among all the scents I would try to smell only ginger because ginger is the finest and I’d been stealing it. 

I wasn’t working yesterday, I would tell Debra; I only heard. That was my message — every time: I wasn’t here. I only heard.