Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 15

learned to text when you left home. Where are you? We need mustard. Call me back. Are you still there? Mari, have you left? Your father called. He’s going to be late.

You know she’s mixed up her meds again. It’s hard to remember them all. For you. For her. There’s eighteen bottles in a box on the dining room table. One’s for depression, one for pain, and one brings Dad to dinner. Where are you?

You ask Ray how much longer it will be and he shrugs, huffs and stands, yelling to the mechanic who yells back. Fifteen minutes, you text her. Okay. We’re waiting.

At the grocery store you try to hurry but it’s crowded with other shoppers who are also hurrying because it’s the week of Thanksgiving. And you’re getting a chicken and macaroni and cheese. And mustard. And beer because Dad likes Blue Moon and she’ll ask where it is when you come home. You’ll pour it out when she goes to sleep. You lean on the shopping cart as you wait in line. A child screams behind you. She looks a little like Olivia or at least Olivia at five. She’s got to be at least six now. A year makes a difference when you’re that small. You don’t remember when you were five and neither does she. Where are you?

She’s waiting for you on the front porch when you pull into the driveway. In her nightgown. You’re pretty sure she hasn’t gotten out of bed until now. Her dark underwear shows through the thin cotton. She follows you into the house and watches you unload the bags on the kitchen counter.

“Did you get the mustard?” she asks.

“Yes.” You set it in front of her as proof. She stares at it while you take out the chicken and put a pot of water to boil for the macaroni.

“Your father’s upstairs taking a nap.”

“Okay,” you say.

“He brought home a pie for dessert.”

“Okay.” You open the fridge to store the beer, leaving the space where she imagines the pie to be empty on the middle shelf. The cold hits your face and makes you sick. You remember how Jake and Dylan and all the rest locked you inside, how you screamed for help, wondering if Johnny could hear you—of course he couldn’t but you screamed anyway until a janitor let you out.

M. Brett Gaffney | 15