My father says that, after twenty years, maybe it’s enough. Maybe it is his own fault, those few nights at home, in front of the TV, charging away the hours. And then those other nights, the nights away, when indiscreet smells from his starched shirts would reek from the hamper . . .
Suddenly, everything felt so raw, as if it had happened yesterday, but twice as bad just to spite me. My father’s mistakes flashed from the tube onto his glasses, from the glass table to the infinite snow of our prized and perfect snow globe that was too crazy when shaken and too much of a mess to break.
He takes me out for Chinese.
“Enough is enough,” he says, and eats hot and sour soup. He licks his big fish lips. If he were a girl, the boys would tease and call him D.S.L. Dick Sucking Lips. I am a girl and I own his lips. The boys tease less than they used to.
My father kissed me once and it was not a nice kiss. It was on the lips and too wet. It was for my mother.
“Tell me,” my father says, over our fourth bloody mary, “tell me.”
Sometimes I forget who my father is. He wasn’t around as much when I was younger and now that I’ve begun to notice him, his slicked gray hair, his sweet, back-deep eyes, I look for things familiar, for things licked up and pasted in the center of me, connected by more than white saliva, but dreamy as a kiss.
I tell my father about the boy who lives next door, who is so close through my walls I can hardly sleep. This boy, he likes me for the things I can’t control: the way my hips jut out like my mother’s from the side, my thick and sad pillowed lips.
I tell my father how the boy said we could dress up. I could pretend to be Jackie O and he could be John. I tell my father how I told the boy that he too may die a tragic death too tragic for me to watch but that I was good at pretending.
“Stay faithful,” my father says, having just ruined his marriage.
Meanwhile, I order egg rolls, feel my father’s leg beneath the table and die. I worry that things are off center, that my watch is minutes fast. I watch the light from the window, the glare from his glasses, his fingers, my hands.
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©1998 Rachel Sherman and Nerve.com