Family and Relationships
I am waiting to turn left at an intersection. A driver cuts me off, we make eye contact, and I am caught in the endless loop of a memory I thought I had left behind eight years ago in Afghanistan. I begin to feel panicked.
On Sundays I go to the country, to Arandale, to sit on Annie’s rotting deck and look up at the sky, so soaked in blue today it could almost collapse. This is Annie’s sky, and I need to witness it with her every week, just as I need to stack firewood with her and wash my hands in her cold water. Without Annie, I’d be just a shadow blowing around the big city. Annie colors me in, makes me real.
The story begins with a message on Facebook: “I’m looking for Wayne Scott from the Baltimore area. A Navy veteran, about seventy-two or seventy-three. A relative of yours by any chance?” A phone call to my mother confirms that my father, whose name I inherited and who was close-lipped about his past, had dropped out of high school and joined the Navy when he was seventeen.
They sat in silence, him eating, her watching. He thought how Reed’s whole life was now a finished story, no more surprises, abandoned forever to the past tense. And Hanley still here, looking for new ways to break the world until it apologized.
An autographed bookmark, a stack of children’s books on the luggage rack, the ideal country dog
As the train slows down approaching Sunnyside, I look out the window for the spot where Harry jumped to his death. It’s marked by a tree still pinned with a few tattered ribbons and plastic flowers in Harry’s honor. “You fat fuck,” I whisper. “Who am I supposed to jam with now?”