Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 19

M. Brett Gaffney | 19

mouth. Except you can’t smell tuna anywhere inside the room. Nothing but urine masked by vinegar and baby powder.

You hold onto the bed rails for support, breathing in deep the layers of dust, leftovers of human skin, dried and useless and caking the antique furniture. Erin still sleeps, snores, and no matter what you’ve conjured up inside your head she’ll still be here, in a place you can’t pretend is anything but a low income nursing home. And your mom did attempt suicide and no matter how hard you try, Johnny will still be a corpse and for three hours on a Friday night you found yourself locked inside a cold drawer beside him.

Your phone vibrates in your pocket. Where are you? Coming home. You let go of the bed, back away, turn for the door.

“Ray?” Her voice is everything you expected and you leave before she says another word. In the elevator you think about her calling you Charlie instead. You hold onto the raspy cadence and mouth the name with your warm, dry lips.