By Lillian Ann Slugocki
It is September 23rd, the day his granddaughter is born, but we are not there.
We are in the flower garden on the south side of our hometown. We are sitting on the stone bench under the gazebo with our grandmother, and her crooked index finger because time has collapsed. We are sitting on the stone bench with our mother as she smokes a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light. The smoke curls around her blonde hair and red lips. We are sitting on the stone bench for a wedding photo, and he is dressed like Don Johnson from Miami Vice. We are sitting on the stone bench with our father on Sunday morning after we’d walked along the shore of the lagoon. And in this moment, we are also sitting on the stone bench for the last time as brother and sister. I continue to get texts that his granddaughter struggles to be born. We sit adjacent to two fifty foot tall willows. We are trying to say good bye:
Maybe the year is 1968, and he flies like an idiot on his green Stingray around the curvy block and out along the railroad tracks. Or maybe it’s 1970, and we are smoking a bong in the back of the garage, and playing basketball in the driveway. He perfects a jump shot he calls the squiz-ma-roo. Or we are insisting our younger brother take a shit in a shot glass, which he does. We preserved it, our memento mori, hidden beneath the tool shed for decades. Even when it was gone, it was still there. Or it’s dusk, late September, and our mother hollers from the front porch– Boys!! Or it’s 7:00 a.m. and the temp is minus 15 degrees, a frozen morning, and the snow has drifted up to the eaves. We do not want to go to school. It’s too cold to walk! She says: Five kids at home with her all day, no. She won’t hear of it, almost pushes us out the door. And each story closes the door a little bit more, a little bit more, until we both stand on the threshold. and we understand that this is where we will part ways. He will go forward like Eurydice, and I will turn back. Continue Reading…