I have been leaving you out of our story. Perhaps I thought you forfeited your claim to grief with the soporific deathwish, waking somnolence of your grave-still body alive and looking at her anguish dark curls stuck around her face as white as buried bones breathing slowly and wishing you weren't. Lock the door when you leave and don't you dare look back.
You have no right to pummel the concrete until your knuckles shred, or let your screams echo through the gouged bedroom walls or weep when you place your grown-up hand on the hollow cast of tiny stars. Do not speak to me of loss when it's you who dragged your rancorous soul through the dirt and down the road.
You need to give him credit, she'd say and I stared down at her shoes with ziptie laces and holes in the toe. Felt the immortal bitter swarm sting my heart gorged on poison and memory Darling, it's me. Wake up; it's nearly noon and we set you a place at the table.
On the cusp of sixteen, I stopped asking where you went why there is (no sound) between the faceless walls what happens after the dear and mighty fall without trace. Fear's shadow slept over our bodies. Illusory reconcile cast a strange and sinister light a discord between the man who slipped away and the one standing like a lighthouse beside my hospital bed. I have not made this easy for you.
You who touched my nascent brow before sunlight's exaltation, who fathered two children and claims four as his own, the sturdy wire between fixtures in our constellation; perhaps she is right, and I will learn to write the chapters thrown into the fireplace, edges burned poignant viscera still legible beneath ten years of dust and ashes. There is more to this story than handprints on cheekbones, iv drips stabbing our crooked veins, dark fringe over her eyes like a shroud, gaunt hours under clinical florescence. Dear one, what is it you've done to yourself?
There is also this: a homemade treehouse and firecrackers, tiaras and satin shoes. Face paint and mardi gras beads and my dress-up clothes, flowers blooming in your lapel and in my hair. We're royals now, looking proud over the peeling balcony. I am tall as the grass under our second-story feet my hand enfolded in your palm like a prayer. When you're a kid again, will you come with me on the swingset? When I'm your size will we be too big to remember how the story goes? We hear her from the kitchen, back door thrown open to mid-July swelter. It's half-past noon. Stop dawdling around the yard and come inside.