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Child's Play

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“…don’t play like that,” Momma said as I looked down and into her minty eyes. It just wasn’t right. I felt like a piece that’d outgrown its niche in the puzzle. The last time she had said something like that to me, I had probably been four or five and I was fighting with my brother. “Don’t play like that, or you’ll get hurt.” I never listened and always came away with an arm laced with black bruises or a split lip. The stakes were higher than that now, though. That fact manifested itself in the barren Christmas tree that sat in the corner of her den. We had once called that our den, and once, “we” had been more than just she and I. I turned away from her and plucked the withering tree. A snow globe sat in a bed of dying needles below.
It’s a frightening thing, living inside there, I thought to myself. You’re frozen in a perpetual smile as the world about you shudders and debris swims in the air you’re trying to breath.
I’d tried to break out though. No more of this shaking, I had said, and, a committed mutineer against the glass sphere in which I lived, I pulled the plug from the bottom of the globe. I didn’t want to blame either of my parents for building the sick façade in which we had lived, I didn’t want to pick a side and I didn’t want to fight them any more; I just wanted out. Maybe the world outside held misery for me, too. Bbut surely that would be better than the drowning in the stagnancy of this realm of Tartarus.
Once I rode the waves outside the globe, the air in the real world was certainly drier than I had expected. I suffocated some days, wanted back in to the home of my origin, no matter how broken. That sphere had shattered though, the former occupants scuttling away from the carnage, nursing their wounds from the implosion. Each time I turned back to look at those ruins, though, I swear my patched little heart stopped and restarted to a new, injured rhythm.


Lub, dub.
The “For Sale” sign outside the house rearranged in my mind’s eye, in some sick kind of dyslexia. It became a memoir of the horrors that had been born in that house.
Dub, dub, lub.
The divorce documents in each parent’s wake; the papers that proved love could become a tool with which others could macerate you.
Lub, lub, dub.
My spotty memories that returned: transient little apparitions that reminded me I could only recall grains of my earlier life.
Dub, dub, dub, lub...


“…you can’t play like that; you’re just going to get hurt.” Momma called me back to the present, a place I spent little time in little these days. She was swaddled tightly in a puffy white coat, ready to depart from the house she lived in, the one I only now visited. She was preparing to leave again, to go sit in another man’s den, to decorate his Christmas tree and live in his sphere. I hoped for her sake that his was a better dimension than that which she and I had shared. “It’s not his fault he doesn’t call you back any more.” I wanted to find my brother, the boy neither she nor I had seen for too long. I’d twist his curly hair in my fingers and yank it like I had when we were little. I’d tell him knock off this nonsense, tell him it wasn’t okay that he’d turned a blind eye towards my existence. I’d remind him of the somber times when we promised each other we’d stick together when our family crumbled away, of the bubbly, innocent memories of our childhood. I’d jump-start his memory and force him to remember the bag I packed for him when Momma tossed him to the curb. He’d have to recall the moment he taught me to tie my shoes and how he had called me the first time the sirens blared in our driveway. He’d remember how we’d sat on the hood of his car last summer, eating Italian food in a smog-filled parking lot and enjoying each other’s company. He’d think of the numberless times he’d whisked me away from the battlefield of our home and blared music so we wouldn’t have to listen.
She was right, though. My brother’s head wasn’t quite his anymore. Our parents’ demons had taken up residence in his skull, and at this moment, our father was the king of that realm. Cody was still convinced that he was King Midas, that he could transmute him and his world into gold. Midas had disowned me when he realized that I couldn’t be his gold, that I couldn’t be gold, period. In time I tucked that idea into my breast pocket, close to my heart. I’d construct my own patina, and remember the puzzle from which I came with an eternally heavily heart. In the future, I’d recall the façade behind which we all choked and pull the shards of this new life into my own puzzle.



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