Counting on Numbers


It was one hundred and seventy three steps to the delicatessen if you were counting the stairs. It was three hundred sixty one to the church, just up to the inner doors of the foyer which is as far as Adele counted since she wasn’t always sure of getting to the same pew. Everything was counted, every step taken, every bite of food, every minute spent waiting or watching or going. It all had to count, don’t you see?

“There’s crazy Delly!” came the high pitched squeal of a child. Adele turned and glared. A group of children shrank into a tighter circle, then dissipated, disappeared into the brick walls that guarded the streets. Adele smiled and continued on home. It was the fifty-ninth time a child had made fun of her. This year.

She fed Shasta first. The grey striped tiger wound itself around her feet until she set his dish down on the mat. She stroked him as he ate, feeling the soft purring through his back, her bones tingling to the vibrations of the cat. She wondered if that’s what sex felt like. She imagined it was, as two creatures communicated through touch. She straightened up and turned on the oven, opened the freezer and took out a boxed dinner. She opened it and emptied out a salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn and a square of apple cobbler into a pan and put that in the oven. The phone rang.


“Adele Tomlinson?”

“Yes, who’s calling?”

“Adele, how’d you like to win a hundred thousand dollars?” The voice was exuberant, strong, and Adele thought, honest.

“How?” she asked.

She listened and answered his questions, gave him the information he needed. At one point he put her on hold and she counted to twenty-four. Then he came back on and gave her a name and a number to call to confirm that the money had been transferred from her account to the new one that already held the one hundred thousand dollars she’d won. “Yes, thank you, thank you,” she said. “Good  night to you, too.”

Adele got her dinner out of the oven and as she ate, with a pencil and paper and calculator, counted the rate her $122,463.00  would grow at an average interest rate of five percent per annum.

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