'Triple-J’s Bedtime Routine' by Alan S. Falkingham

My brother, John Jay Jameson, opens every door in the house before he goes to sleep. He even cracks the screen door on the back porch so, on windy nights, draughts of air roam around, causing other doors to slam shut, forcing Triple-J to get up and start his crazy routine all over again. 

Triple-J was the one who found Dad in the bathroom, hanging by his belt. And ever since then, he’s been this way. My mom says it’s because he’s special. That’s also what she said after he’d memorized every line in Birdbox. And when he posted a YouTube video of himself saying the words “This is a Haunted House” in twelve different languages. 

Triple-J says, only bad things happen behind closed doors. He says that’s why Mr. O’Callaghan always shuts the door to his office before he canes you.  And why Mom and Dad used to always keep their bedroom door closed on Sunday mornings, so that they could have sex without us interrupting them. Triple-J says every time you close a door, it takes you a little nearer to the grave. Until, finally, it’s time to shut the lid of your coffin and push you into the incinerator. Triple-J knows all about cremation. He did a school project about it in 6th grade. He even got caught on the roof of the funeral home, trying to break in. He said he was doing research, but mom got another call from the Principal after that. To talk, again, about what to do about Triple-J. 

But, as I hear him moving through the house, turning every handle and opening every door, I think that, just maybe, Triple-J is right and that perhaps every door you close does take you a little nearer to dying. Because, none of us really know what made Dad shut himself behind that bathroom door and tie his belt around his neck. Mom says it was because he just couldn’t shake his sadness and, eventually, all he wanted to do was sleep. Triple-J says it was because of the norepinephrine and serotonin in his brain. But, whatever the reason, I hope one day he’ll come back and visit us. Whenever I ask Mom if she thinks that might happen, she says she doesn’t think so, and holds onto me so tight it feels like my ribs might crack. 

Triple-J says I’m retarded and that Dad’s gone forever. But I’m not so sure. Because I think that someday his ghost might find its way back home, through all those doors that Triple J leaves open every night, and he’ll come kiss us goodnight in our rooms, one last time. And so, I do my best to stay awake as long as I can. Just in case. Until the morning begins to lighten the edges of the blinds on my window, and I know it’s time to be brave, and face another day without him. 

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