Issue 45 Feb 2017
It had finally happened. The nocturnal habits of the Peruvian cockroach and the bioluminescence of fireflies had lost their luster. Ditto for the adaptations of the arctic fox, life in the Mojave Desert, and the construction of the Great Wall of China. I ducked as the rejected flock of books soared past my head, their migration ultimately blocked by my baby sister’s cuddly kitten poster. Their spines bent on impact, and crisp, white pages fluttered to the ground like disjointed feathers. The kitten, as always, looked pleased.
“Patience. I’ll find another text. Just be… patient.” Patience was a ridiculous name for this child. Then again, maybe it wasn’t so much a description as it was a warning for anyone that came in contact with her-- you’re going to need patience to hang out with this kid.
“Don’t you dare read me those boring texts! I hate them. They’re boring-- they’re so boring, they’re boring me awake.” She said boring so many times it didn’t even sound like a word anymore. That was kind of boring.
“Then let’s just skip it tonight. I’ll tuck you in and you can go right off the dreamland.” She liked dreams. The weirdness and untruthfulness of them appealed to her sense of naughtiness.
“No. Mommy said you were supposed to read to me.”
“But you just threw all your readers across the room.”
A flying pillow hit me in the stomach, and the other one muffled a bloodcurdling scream. We have thin walls. If the neighbors heard that crap, they’d think I was murdering her. But then again, they know Patience, so maybe not.
“Look, how about I tell you something? Something fun?”
A hand-shaped bubble of cold air soothed Jess’ burning palms.
“Be brave, my darling,” whispered a voice that was as distant as the breeze rustling the dead trees outside.
There was no way that breeze could reach Jess through the double-paned windows and closed-cell foam insulation, but cool air still caressed her hair and tickled her neck. Jess took a deep breath, imaging she was pulling Momma’s spirit in with the air, trapping pieces of it in her lungs.
I’ll be brave, she thought and pushed open the door to her brother’s room. Even without the lights on, she could see the blue walls were plastered with images of his favorite goalies.
She knew George was outside, playing street hockey with his buddies, but she still took baby steps, careful not to make a sound. Her father, known to most as Rev. Blake, was in the room below her, hopefully too enraptured by his drugs to notice her stealing George’s clothing.
“Open the door nice and slow,” whispered Momma’s faraway voice.
Jess slid the door, reaching for the white button up with quivering fingers. Its material was thick and sturdy, but still soft. The same was true for the navy pants.