Three Minutes

At work she sets a timer for three minutes and goes into the bathroom at the back where the soap is rarely refilled and the toilet paper is rarely refilled and where someone shoved three crates of baseball caps with the company’s old logo into the corner long before she worked there.

She pulls the crates to the window and stands to stare at the city stretching before her, people with shopping bags and big hats, and the way the rain paints pictures of flying saucers in the puddles.

And when she gets home, she eats alone watching television on mute and watching the extras in half-focus order coffee from named characters and carry on their imagined conversations.

She heard from her childhood best friend whose cousin was an extra
on Degrassi that all the background actors are told to say Peas and Carrots or else Strawberries over and over to make it look like they’re talking, and that’s what she looks for now, the secret code that people are told to whisper when their problems are too big for a television screen and can’t be solved in the space of a three-minute background scene.

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