In the bathroom with the exhaust fan on she could almost stop hearing the beating; regular, rhythmic, almost like it was living. The constant loud breath of the fan created a deafness, sometimes ringing in her ears, so that she did not know when the sounds began to blend together and form a screen of silence. She would not know when the beating stopped. Today she had to close herself away from the sound because restlessness was teasing her; it created an edge she had to retreat from. She was constantly moving, pacing, picking things up and putting them down. Futility ruled until some constructive inspiration spontaneously, gracefully, interrupted. She hoped it would be something he would appreciate, inspiration for a new recipe or a new painting, maybe she would find a great book in the boxes still stacked ceiling high in the spare room. If she could finish it before he came home, appear accomplished, like it took the whole day, it could erase this morning of restlessness.
The restlessness could not be explained, it was not a tragedy like unfaithfulness, or even perversely curious like searching the internet or shopping for frivolous objects. Restlessness was a mind trap and it was spinning around and around, the way she felt after drinking too strong coffee. The bread, when the beating stopped and the yeast rose and it was finally done gasping and screaching, that would be a small obligation met, but not enough. She knew that kneading the dough herself could be therapeutic, but instead she let the bread machine do it, even if she had to escape the sounds of its work.
Serially staring into different directions she focused her laser beams on the freckle sized age spots on her hands, kneeled to clean a line of dust from behind the door and conjured images of dancing dust bunnies and their more lethargic friend sloth. Rather more enjoying the image of the bunnies her mind leapt awake. Still frivolous but a gift, she could paint something for her nephew. She turned off the fan, left the bathroom and sat before her paints and paper. The beating had stopped. Over the next two hours as the enticing smell of warm yeast rose from the kitchen she built something, snow fell, cats yawned and restlessness was vanquished by the edges of a ½ inch filbert brush, scarlet red paint sprinkles and imaginary chocolate.