November 21, 2009


i’m home from school. it might be easter. it’s warm, anyway. just freshly. it might even be the first time i’m back since we’ve known.

i have some people over. my parents are living in my uncle’s basement. the house has been sold. to a younger family. it’s my first visit since the move. awfully depressing, but i try not to dwell. on any one detail. my eyes and attention flutter about the room, picking up very basic elements of things and moving on without analysis. carpet: no one particular colour. temperature: chilly. smell: damp, basementy. picture of a very handsome, long-lashed Jesus at last supper: perfect.

my folks are kind enough to leave us to our bottles. they scamper upstairs to attend to theirs. i’m not sure how much time passes, or how drunk i am when i hear them.

it’s heart-wrenching. someone’s weeping like there’s nothing left in the universe but the sound of their own voice. long wails interrupted by the wet sounds of choking on tears and mucous. the basement pauses. i don’t look at anyone but, obviously, they’re all staring wide at me. i don’t let terror make me run. i walk calmly up to stairs, preparing.

i walk so slowly. 

the basement stairs curve into the tiny antechamber between the front door and the rest of the house where shoes and slippers pile up. the sliding closet door is all mirror, so the mass of shoes is doubled and you get the feeling you’re walking into a house twice as crowded. the front door is wide open. my father is a pile on the concrete of the tiny front porch, on hand slamming the screen door wider for balance. my mother is sobbing over him, trying to get him off his knees. she see me and goes even more ballistic trying to convince i don’t even know who that nothing out of the ordinary is happening.

it’s okay! go. you go back in. go!

her hand is fluttering back and forth in the space between us, slamming into her face like a moth into a light bulb, then jutting out in front of her to shoo at me.   

my dad’s head lifts by some force. his bloodshot eyes strain to roll up far enough to get my face into view. his stigmatism makes it so when he drinks, one pupil dilates to twice the size of the other. 

i choke back what i initially take for tears, but turns out to be the shear confusion over a lack of them. i am not about to start crying. i am uniquely composed. immediately, i understand my special gift of calm as radiation. diffuser of cancers.


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