By Christopher Waterbury
Your sweat, cladding your skin under the coat you haven’t decided to take off, steaming inside, the musty air yellowed by a candle while your legs adhere to the plastic on the kneeler. Behind the screen you hear in you a quiet damn, bowing and finding those lines you’d practiced: “Oh my God I am heartily sorry—”
You tell him of a sibling’s quarreling, of when you pushed your sister, then you’re silent as, in you, she falls down the stairs backwards, her hands screeching as she clings the waxed wooden banister, mom clings her vacant body and a puddle forms on the floor from her mouth, on mom’s shirt from her own eyes, dripping, and you tell mom you’re sorry, try again I’m sorry but it’s, not working, your voice gargles when you struggle, but she can probably only hear her own deep, long, wailing, anyway. Dad runs upstairs and where they put her, in the backseat, or in mom’s lap, you didn’t ask.
The garage is empty, and you’ll fight over eating vegetables with the babysitter tonight, tomorrow, and ask your mother who’s calling?, and later who else is there?, saying goodbye and hanging up after hearing dad missing you. The front door locks, and as the babysitter’s steps fade you confess that you’re (still) angry at mom and dad for leaving you at home with a lot gone missing, climbing the stairs to bed and gargling I’m sorry.