Creative Nonfiction Writer, Poet
Still Life with Flashing Lights /// Our limbs move us down the stairway. We've been sleeping. Our bodies are heavy and eyes sensitive to the early morning light, so we approach the scene in silence. Still, our mother presses her finger to her lips before we all descend the stairs, her broad face as tense as an electric wire. At the landing, the living room opens up to us--dark wood paneling walls, the couch with the autumn-colored ticking (orange and brown leaves curling in a matrix of yellow gold). At the farthest end of the room is a wall of dark, built-in shelves cluttered with books, none of which have been opened for years. To the right, two large windows are heavy eyed with half-drawn shades. Between the two windows, our front door is wide open, and our brother stands on the threshold--his brown eyes wide, biting the tips of his fingers. Opposite the door, against the wall, is a worn upright piano that's never been tuned, and beneath the piano stool is our father's unlaced boot, tongue lolling. All over the wood floor are splinters from the smashed coffee table. At the center of the room is our unconscious father, fully clothed, his limbs splayed out like those of a starfish. Police lights from the car outside flash through the window onto his still chest and face--his blue eyes shut behind their lids and his dark beard curling--a frayed blanket. We're afraid he's dead but more afraid that he'll rouse, so we have to be careful as we step over his legs toward the door. We move so slowly it's as if we aren't moving at all. Figures in a painting. Outside, just past my brother, a tall man in a blue uniform (hand placed lightly on his holstered gun) waves us toward our half-packed Chevy. We're going on another trip. Already I see how we'll return.
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Last updated: Oct 09, 2018