Saturday 26 June 2021

'Reasons I can never go back to your parents’ house after you’ve gone' by Madeline Anthes

  1. Your sister. She’s nice, but sometimes too nice, and asks me lots of questions. Like, inappropriate ones about joints and diseases and things a 12-year-old shouldn’t ask about. She listens to that loud clashing music and sits with her door cracked so she can watch me walk by and trap me in the hallways.

  2. Your parents. They’re quiet and make me feel itchy and unsettled. They watch TV and laugh at the corny jokes. They never change the channel. They package leftovers for me in a Tupperware container and tell me not to bother bringing it back and thank me profusely when I do. They treat me like they’ve known me forever. Like I’m part of the family.

  3. The smell. It smells like dinner. Like roasted chicken and steamed broccoli. It smells like your mom’s candles and your dad’s bourbon and your sister’s roll-on glitter stick. It smells like the dog was out in a puddle and there’s Febreze on the couch. It smells nothing like you.

  4. You. The way your parents look at me and see you and it’s always a little wistful, like if they just asked nicely I could conjure you. The way your baby pictures and scribble-nonsense child drawings and communion photos and band posters are still all over the walls. The way you’re splattered everywhere but the house is completely void of you at the same time, and the fullness and emptiness confuses me and leaves me searching for a shred of you somewhere, anywhere, so that it can just make sense. The way I inhale in a breath in your parents’ house and it feels like I’m stealing a bit of air that may have once touched you. I want to deserve your air. I don’t know if I do. 

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