Two and a half hours.
Choice: grocery shop or flaneur. Feed the body or feed the soul.
She choses to feed the soul.
She drives a half hour to the closest city--a city which she is certain real city-dwellers would laugh at. Nevertheless, it is city enough for her. She parks the car, locks the doors, and walks down a brick sidewalk. She is joined at the crosswalk by a man in khaki shorts and two greyhounds. At least, she thinks they are greyhounds. They've got funky stripes, and they walk with a spring in their steps, like they're used to running.
If she lived in a city, she thinks, in a loft with big windows and an open floor plan, where friends would gather for impromptu dinner parties featuring things like pancetta and fried squash blossoms, she would have a dog like that. But she doesn't, so she won't.
She keeps walking, over the bridge with the river's water churning below, past the cafe, past the bank, the toy store, the lawyers' offices. She arrives at an antique store. Inside, there are bottles of sea glass, children's roll-top desks, oak tables, nine-foot half-round windows, wicker loveseats, and fabric samples. A framed Leonardo da Vinci poster leans against a glass-fronted cabinet.
She roams through the store, reveling in the benches, the kitchen tables, the chairs. How many pie crusts were rolled out on this farm table? Where is the child who sat in this desk? Who filled this bookcase with books? Were they spy novels? Romances? Farmer's almanacs?
How much she would like to fill her house with this furniture!
But, with a sigh, she knows she cannot. The time-space continuum works against her. Mostly the space continuum.
On her way out, she sees a desk cubby. It will fit on her desk. Perhaps it might even bring some order to the chaos. She will use it to file manuscripts in, to hold stones, and sharp pencils, and rubber-bands.
As she drives back home, she realizes she needed a mini-vacation. While it's true there was no actual progress made on the manuscript itself, she feels balanced. Now that she lives in Small Town, New England, she sometimes gets homesick for city life, for the whiff of diesel, the honk of a horn, a chance to brush up against other people. City mouse, country mouse. Today was a day for sunshine streaming down on city streets. Tonight she will tackle those revisions. Tonight she will count words under a sky dense with stars and a moon that knows all.