Saturday, October 16

it could happen to you

Wake up. There’s a birthday party. The spiritual and physical presence of those you love are there, though you don’t always believe in spirits. You’re eating foods out of order. Margie feeds you cake. Ted brings out the crab soup. The cake feels stale and dry in your mouth. Other people come; teenagers, your brother’s friends. Someone brought a big black poodle to the birthday party and he begins to whine and pace about, pawing at people’s pants, panting. You grow stern. You would feel much better if everyone left. You grow irresolute but firm, then menacing and feverish. Teenage girls crowd your backyard, chain smoking cigarettes. They throw butts into the dirt. You inform them that you live in a non-smoking household. Teenage girls give you sass. You grab one girl by the hair. She’s black and you immediately consider that someone could interpret this as an act of racist violence. She grabs your ponytail and you struggle with each other’s hair while everybody watches. Go to bed. Hear people talking. Someone is looking for you and you hear him say that you really hurt that girl. Her dad is waiting for you outside your bedroom and hands you a hammer. She needed many more stitches than they thought, he said. Go upstairs. People are sitting around and haven’t gone to bed yet. Looking at the clock, you figure it’s 6 am. You pretend to hit someone in the head with the hammer but stop short, realizing it is in poor taste and adding feebly, “…just kidding.” A woman comes out of the kitchen wearing purple scrunchies in her hair. A man is holding her waist and dips her backwards. She puts her arm out for flair. She speaks with a lisp and grins. She has a face deep with wrinkles. You wonder who invited her.

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