by Charles Scott
The noose on the roof is always there.
It’s tied to a hook that’s attached to the garage. The noose doesn’t hang. The open end is thrown on top of the roof. Somehow, it’s more intimidating that way.
We could see the rope from our room on the second floor. The window faced the backyard where the garage is. When we were bad, Dad pointed out the window. He told us it had been used before.
Other parents might put a stool in the corner and threaten their kids with a timeout. Other kids might go to bed without dinner. Our dad pointed out the window. We looked.
Every January and every July, Dad took us out to the garage. We’d stand with our backs to a support beam and he’d put a notch in the wood with his knife and tell us how much we had grown. I grew three inches one time. Dad pulled the rope off the roof, cut three inches, and threw it back. He did that every time. We’d get taller and the rope would get shorter.
When we got older, he’d send us out by ourselves. We’d mark a notch and we’d cut the rope. We’d throw it back on the roof. He’d watch.
The neighbors would complain. They’d come over and Dad would give them a beer and they’d talk. Then they’d leave. Dad said a few beers could solve any problem. I thought a few beers caused most of them.
We had a lot of new neighbors. I don’t think anyone wanted to live by us.
I didn’t know my mom. I knew how tall she was though. There was a notch on the beam. When I was a kid I didn’t think that was weird. We all had one. It’s what we did.
When I told Dad I’d reached her notch he smiled. He said he had a rope that long already. I took the rope down from the roof and made a cut anyway. He said he didn’t want to use the one that was cut already. He said it was his.
When I was fifteen, I reached my dad’s height. When I told Dad, he did not smile. I still have that rope. It’s mine.
I own the house now. The kids in the room are mine. I don’t drink. The neighbors like me. We still go out to the garage twice a year and put a notch in the wood.
My kids are well-behaved, much better than we were. They’re well-adjusted too. When they’re bad, we send them to a stool in their room for a timeout. They sit on the stool and look out the same window we did.