Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Happy Enough

You took my pulse and told me, “If it was any lower you’d be dead.”

We sat in the waiting area, just us, ignoring the milk-colored marble floor tiles and the mahogany walls.

You said, “Dead men tell no tales,” and winked, with a mint julep sparkle in your celadon eyes, so sassy and sure.

You opened a can somehow, with what I don’t know, plopping out olives, sticking them on the ends of your fingertips before biting them off with your mouth and chewing.  Instead of swallowing, you stretched out your jaw, revealing a disgusting mush of slime while pointing at the mess with both forefingers in some kind of epileptic gang member sign.

“What?” I asked.

“See food,” you gurgled, saliva streaking down your cheek.  “Get it?  See food?”

I laughed a little because it was so dumb, because you were so silly and trying so hard.

You said, “Let’s try this for as long as we can, see if we go blind or not,” and crossed your eyes which made you appear scary, then, after a while, just a little nuts.

You said, “You’re gonna have to work harder if you’re gonna make it.”

You said, “Some of the best games are the ones you don’t buy at the store,” and curled your forefinger over the side of your thumb in the shape of a mouth and went, “Gabba gabba, hey! Let’s have some fun today!  Whaddaya think?”

You were a stage show.  Puppet master. Ventriloquist.  An odd anagram, but the very distraction I needed.

In those minutes and hours, you taught me how to snap my fingers, how to curl my tongue, make my earlobe twitch.  You taught me how to whistle.   You told me puberty was untrustworthy, but, “Do some research beforehand.   Get it?”

I didn’t.

After so long, you looked at the courtroom door and then I did, too, and when my eyes got misty you gave my thigh a sharp pinch but winked again.

“Motherfucker, toughen up,” you said.

I’d never heard that word.  It felt like a bolt, like some kind of freedom.

“It’s important,” you said.  “Really, I’m not even fucking kidding.”

You told me, “I bet he picks you and she picks me, but we’ll still see each other on holidays.”

You said, “Lots of kids have divorced parents, but most of them seem happy enough.”

When the door finally opened, you grabbed my hand and squeezed it, saying, “Go on now.  Smile wide.  Now’s the time, if ever there was one.”

I watched you falsely glow.

But because you were my big sister, because you were my best friend, I did what you wanted.

I sat bolt upright, at attention, and I smiled like I never had.





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