let me check the oven and make sure each burner is turned off, no I haven’t used the oven today but I may have turned it on in my sleep or perhaps I had a sudden blackout or maybe the cat managed to turn one on with a precise flick of her little paw and oh! is that one slightly off-center? touch-tap-adjust-push-side-to-side-millimeter-by-millimeter until it feels perfectly centered under my fingers but did that just make it worse and am I subconsciously trying to gas my apartment and blow up the house and kill all of the lives and living beings within these walls?
did I put away the hair dryer? stare at the electrical socket until I can be certain that there is no plug lurking inside and touch the hair dryer inside the medicine cabinet to ensure it is no longer hot, touch-feel, no it does not burn my hand and no the plastic box in which the hair dryer is sitting will not melt and burst into flames, closemedicine cabinet door but is it really shut? can the cat paw it open? and then wrestle at the shelves until down fall each of the bottles that she can unscrew to release its poison? pushon the door to ensure it is perfectly closed but still stare at it for a few seconds on the way out to make sure
must check the electric kettle, it has an automatic shutoff but you never know, and I used the toaster hours ago but it may still be hot, and is the fridge door shut completely or else the lightbulb inside will get too warm and burst into flames, touch-push-touch-stare and while I’m at it should probably check the oven again, are those burners really off?
put on my shoes and then remember I must check the hair dryer once more as I may have subconsciously plugged it back in, take off shoes can’t drag outside germs onto the floor where the cat can touch them and then lick her paws and ingest the lingering cigarette butts or oil spills or pesticides
touch hair dryer once again, it is cool but then must ensure the medicine door cabinet is once again shut against its poisons, put shoes back on and lock door but halfway down the stairs can’t remember if I locked the door, and while I’m checking might as well make sure all the windows are locked in case a burglar climbs in or a bee zips through a hole in the screen and I come home to an infestation or an invasion, which is worse?
but before I do this must take off the shoes again, touch-push-touch all windows shut, shoes back on, lock-door-unlock-door-lock-door several times and twist the knob and push to ensure it’s locked but when I’m halfway down the stairs decide to check again twist-push-twist-push
try to check the time because I know I’m running late but realize I’ve forgotten my phone and should probably check the oven-dryer-cabinet-fridge-kettle-toaster-windows-locks again once I get inside just to be safe
and decide maybe it’s better to never leave at all?
Lauren Zazzara is a writer in Buffalo, NY. When she isn’t reading, (loudly) tapping at her keyboard, or napping, she is likely adoring her cat, Margaret.