She thought about it as she sipped her steaming coffee--thought about it long and hard. Her Bible lay open before her, but she was not looking at it. She had not really looked at it that morning. It was hard these days to concentrate on things like that. She was ready to do something—to make a day of it.
First off I need to start with my daily chapter, she thought. I always start with my daily chapter. I always have. I’ve always been a good Christian. I always read a chapter a day. Every day I read a chapter first thing. Just as soon as I’ve fixed my cup of coffee, I read a chapter. My daily chapter. My daily coffee.
Today is June fourth. Today’s chapter is James four. June fourth. James four. Just my daily chapter.
Thumbing through the pages she paused on the chapter and began to read to herself.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Quarrels and conflicts. Conflicts and quarrels. Corrals and convicts. Convicts and corrals. Sorrel and rosehips. Rosehips and sorrel.
She pushed her stool out from the table and stood to refill her coffee. The aroma of roasted coffee beans wafted up to her nose as she reseated herself.
Is not...does not...so you...can not...so you...fight and quarrel. Quarrel and fight. Fight. Might. Blight. Sight. White. Right. Night. Light. Fight. Fight and quarrel. Quarrel and fight.
She glanced at a crossword puzzle, tossed carelessly upon the floor and sighed, settling her elbows on the table in front of her.
Just my daily chapter. James four. June fourth. Finish soon. Always read my daily chapter. First thing. Finish, so I can do other things. Other things. My hair needs done. I’ll get my hair done today. Call the beauty parlor. See if they have any openings. Finish. Just my daily chapter.
She ran her fingers absently through her curly cropped hair.
Read! She thought, and forced herself to continue.
She got up from her chair and strolled slowly over to the telephone.
Call the beauty parlor. Make an appointment. Beauty parlor. Taylor’s Beauty Parlor.
She picked up the telephone book and began searching through it until she found the “T” section. She found the telephone number and dialed.
It is ringing now. One ring. Pick up, please. Two rings. Please have an opening. Three rings. They will pick up on the third ring.
A voice answered and she made an appointment for ten-thirty.
She looked at the clock. It is nine-thirty now. An hour to get ready. An hour to finish my chapter and get ready. Finish my chapter. Just my daily chapter. June fourth for James four. Or was it James four for June fourth?
She returned to her seat, took a drink of her luke-warm coffee and adjusted her glasses.
Where was I? James four. James four verse what? James four verse thirteen? Four verse thirteen. Verse thirteen. Read! Come now, you who say “Today or tomorrow we shall go to such and such a city...” Ten-thirty hair appointment. I wonder what Alice is doing? Haven’t seen Alice for a while. Call Alice. Call Alice and see if she has plans. Lunch plans. Meet Alice for lunch. Call Alice now, before she makes plans.
Four. Three. One. Six. She hummed to herself as she punched in the last four numbers. Answer Alice. Be home. Alice will be home reading her chapter. She always reads a daily chapter. She always reads the same as I do. Just a daily chapter. James four on June fourth. We can discuss it over lunch. Over lunch. Come on, Alice, answer.
Alice answered the phone and agreed to have lunch at noon.
Lunch at noon, she thought as she meandered back to her seat. Finish my daily chapter and then go to my hair appointment. Ten-thirty at the beauty parlor. Meet Alice at noon for lunch. Noon for lunch with Alice at the Diner. Finish my daily chapter. Read! Yet you do not know what your like will be like tomorrow. Tomorrow I will grocery shop. Maybe I should do it today. No. I will do it tomorrow. There are sales tomorrow. Besides, I will go to Claret’s today, and I will not have time to grocery shop. I will not have time today. Plenty of time tomorrow. Read on. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Like the steam off my coffee. I wonder how Mary is? I will go and see her tomorrow. Tomorrow or Friday. Write it down. Write it down so I won’t forget. Write it down Friday.
She rose from her chair a third time and reached for a note-pad. She wrote:
Tuesday—Hair appointment, Taylor’s Beauty Parlor, ten-thirty
Claret’s, need panty hose
Nothing on Thursday.
She sighed. I will think of something. My coffee is cold. Finish reading my chapter. Just my daily chapter.
She turned back to her Bible.
Instead you should say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” Is that the end? It’s the end of the page. Is the chapter over?
She turned the page.
Not quite. Only two more verses. Almost finished. Almost finished with my chapter. Just my daily chapter. James four on June fourth. Read! But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. Very arrogant. All such boasting is evil. What time is it?
She looked at the clock.
Ten o’clock! I have a hair appointment at ten-thirty. Hurry! Get dressed and ready! Have to brush teeth. Comb hair. I am going to the beauty parlor, then to lunch, then to Claret’s. Very busy day. One more verse. It will wait. Only one verse of my chapter. Just my daily chapter. Oh well. Better get ready now. What will I wear?
She stood up from the table.
She clutched at her heart, her face turning gray.
Oh! Not indigestion. I didn’t have breakfast. Just my daily cup of—Oooooh!
She crumpled onto the table, writhing, face-downward. Then she lay still.
She did not go to her hair appointment at Taylor’s Beauty Parlor at ten-thirty. She did not meet Alice for lunch at the Diner at noon. She did not go to Claret’s to buy panty hose.
Alice became worried and called the Police. They found her lying with her face on her Bible, and her to-do list next to her. She had not moved. She would not move. She would never move again.
She would not go grocery-shopping Wednesday, to cash in on the sales. She would not see Mary on Friday. Mary might see her on Friday, if she was able to go to the funeral.
She would not have her daily cup of coffee again. She would not read her daily chapter again. Just her daily chapter. James four on June fourth.
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.