At the dinner table, Fancy Goodnight, my seventeen-year-old granddaughter, drops a bombshell, spills the beans, or lays an egg depending on your perspective.
“Hey, you guys, guess what?”
Lavender Green Goodnight, Fancy’s twelve-year-old sister, responds. “You’re pregnant with twins, and you don’t know who the father is. It—”
Topaz Goodnight their fifteen-year-old sister interrupts, “It could be any of twelve homeless, drug-addicted, ex-cons that—”
Mavis Goodnight, the girl’s forty-year-old mother attempts to put the conversation back on track, “Enough, don’t joke about that. Fancy, what do you want to tell us?”
The room is empty. The oak floorboards have a dull shine, the finish spoiled by dusty foot prints and the sad circular stains of glasses consumed. A yet to be attended to feel. The wisps of laughter hang in the air. She was alone.
A pear can break a window if you throw it hard enough, which David has done, shattering the top pane of the patio door, the sound lost in the blast of our crazy loud backyard. Half the block is here for a barbecue on a blazing hot Sunday afternoon, knocking back beers from Styrofoam coolers, holding sweaty shouted conversations over the racket of Pacheco Boulevard.
My mother’s a piece of work. She’s an avant-garde throwback to prehistoric times. She’s a ruthless diva of danger. I love her and fear her in nearly equal measure. She has taught me valuable and obscure lessons. The following teachings standout at this point in my life.
“Someone once said that life prepares you for what it throws at you.
Man O’ fuck! That’s a very wise and comforting thought for coping.
I am Mack. I’m writing a letter to my real dad (not to my foster dad-I’ve had 12 so far and I’m not even 13). I’m writing it carefully with their stubby pencil but these people don’t know where to mail it. I tell them his address. They say that’s not a valid address. I say isn’t it close enough? How many damn zip codes does Yakima have and can’t you guys do some research? They tell me to calm down (I hate that the most). They look at me like I’m about to tear their faces off. When I step back from the thick glass they’re behind, their eyes relax a little and they say the usual: we don’t have time right now (which means they won’t anytime soon). I hear them talking about New Admits, guess a ton of them, so they won’t have any time in probably forever.
Dr. Simmons studies the results of our daughter’s blood tests. “Mr. and Mrs. Jacobsen, I’ll get right to it.” Glenna leans forward. I try to squint away the words I don’t want to hear. “Your daughter has Byrd’s Syndrome.”
The weight of his diagnosis lands on my chest. My wife gasps.