Emma was pissed off. She hadn’t seen him since he got out of jail after doing a weekender. He’d been huckled for theft and fighting with the security guard who caught him. She knew Sean’s logic only too well. Getting done for the theft was fair enough but the fighting was the guards fault for catching him.
Hunger growled in him, clamoring for attention. The old man went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. There was one can of soup. Chicken noodle. A bowl and a spoon sat in the old man’s dish drain next to a small pot, the perfect size for heating soup. Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the leaves of a shady elm tree and filled the kitchen with dappled light.
I kept my older sister’s cat-eye glasses in a drawer after she was struck down by a train. Nancy’s Chevy Bel-Air was stalled, like a truly cliché song on the radio. She was only eighteen and it was 1961. Nancy said they made her look like a freak. A nerd. She was embarrassed that she needed glasses to read and see the world’s problems highlighted. She’d get rid of these glasses, go with contacts if she just had the money. A scarlet letter, a reminder of what Nancy didn’t have. There was so much my sister and I didn’t have. We lacked parents like Ward and June Cleaver, the opportunity simply to relax and watch the world move past. Vast objects that were all our own, the finest frocks and suits.
Daniel planed the final piece of timber. A few more shavings and he knew that it would fit. He wasn’t happy with one section so he spent another minute sanding it.
He admired his work.
The other two stood on plinths. He never considered himself arrogant. They were beautiful and in perfect proportion.
I’m on break when I get the call from Gram. I listen and nod along, pretending my heart isn’t seizing in my chest. “Keep me posted,” I tell her, and she sighs in exasperation.
Kathy’s Dad passed away in his own house, his last rattling breaths aided by the morphine his daughter poured down his ancient mouth. He lived alone in the old place for decades. Germs terrified him. He secured the windows with plastic. The air inside turned stale and rancid. He roamed the neighborhood at night, searching for cans and bottles. He filled the house with old lawnmowers, pieces of scrap metal, newspapers piled to the ceiling. Kathy inherited this rotting, junk filled dwelling. Over the next year, she and her husband Neil renovated. All the plumbing and electric wiring renewed, a new shingle roof, restored walls and floors. The father’s piles of tools and newspapers, old tiles and bottles all recycled, usurped by Kathy’s stuffed toys and hangers full of vintage and antique clothing, her hundreds of art books and coffee table volumes about Hollywood stars, her garbage bags and boxes packed with blankets.
8 am, Wednesday, and Chris waited for his mother. If only there was some way to stop her. Just because she had borne him nine long months, gotten up to him in the middle of the night in the years directly after, suffered his tantrums in the years after that, sent him off to school with a fresh packed lunch each and every day, saw to him as a teenager with his sullen silences and raging hormones, and helped him get a job and out into the world, she thought she could still intrude.