--WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU FELT REALLY HAPPY?
I am busy holding myself together. In the mirror I am pulleys and strings and wrong answers. My sister claims I am thinner than her, a broom handle. She says she can make bows out of my skin. She tosses candy wrappers at me and chuckles. Mother watches from the kitchen, blurry-eyed and bored, drawing hard on a cigarette, as if self-emulating.
Our house is a bear trap that I hate. The walls smell like sins and sewers and burnt offerings, so I go out to the backyard. I make sure no one’s watching. I hide behind the big oak, use my hands to dig, fingertips going raw in seconds. I shouldn’t have buried it so deep, but it’s hard to be trustworthy with the world. The planet feels heavy and sluggish, a jug of gasoline, sloshing forward so obese.
I dust dirt off the metal box and open it. Unwrap the cloth and take out the photograph. We were three. My twin looked like me, maybe a little smarter with his lip cricked. I feel guilty that I can’t remember him. We would have shared meals together, TV time, sang. We might have played tag round this tree. Dad said we were playing Hide and Seek and that he didn’t see Jesse tucked behind the rear wheel. I might have been the only one who believed him. Still, he shouldn’t have killed himself. Losing both of them has dried up all my sweet spots.
I hear the new man’s truck pulling up, coughing like a dragon, stereo thumping full blast. No matter what she says, no matter how many times she hits me, I’ll never call him Dad.
I put back the box, bury it, stand up and watch the sun dart through the leaves of the big oak as if it’s a playground and the spackles of light are alive.