The Vodka Ghosts This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 20, 2010
By , Lawrenceville, GA
When the voices begin to pound heavily,
muffled through the thick walls,
my stomach clenches around itself and
my hands start their shaking.

It goes back to the days when my sister
drank in her bedroom with the vodka
floating up the stairs mingling with the
smoke of the cigarettes she huffed.

The belt was only a threat for me but
a living nightmare for my sister whose
legs were covered in welts, her penance
for the shattered rules she wrapped around herself.

Now the alcohol lingers like a ghost,
enslaving her mind and body making her
angry, sad, scared, mean, a catalyst
for arguments brought back from the dead.

Only now the belt is a stitch in time, my father’s
white knuckles instead clenching around her throat,
backed into a wall screaming with the scent
of vodka floating up the stairs to me.

18 years have taught me to run when
the voices start to raise and crack under strain,
but no matter how deeply I hide within the walls
I cannot stop the clenching stomach and shaking hands.

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