My parents. Every day they fight and every night I hide. Every word they scream is because of me and every tear or lamp or vase that hits the ground is my fault. It’s a natural reflex, I just block out everything they scream. I hear the yelling but not the words. They don’t look at me or speak to me or acknowledge me in any possible way. To them I’m invisible. “Him” is what I call him, you could say it’s because I don’t know his name but to me there is no name for his force, only the single syllable of Him. The sun is setting and I know that if I want to see him, I’ll have to leave now. I pull open the window to my room I stick my head outside.
There is frost on the grass and I chill in my bones, but my teeth don’t chatter, instead I feel warm. I walk down the street. I see Sarah. She’s taking out the trash and everything is so dark that I can barely see her from here. Sarah, who was always afraid of the dark when we had sleepovers, is out here alone. I come closer and look down at her bare wrist. If I close my eyes I could see the bracelet I gave her with the half heart that had “best” on it in sparkly purple glitter. My eyes fall to my own wrist where my matching half hangs. It used to say “friends” in the same sparkly purple but now it’s scratched and cracked. Age and wear have changed the shape into a raindrop. Even if I wanted to I wouldn’t be able to take it off. Another thing I can’t do anymore.
For a second Sarah freezes and looks around then she stares right at me and I’m thinking, “She’s looking at me. She can see me.” My heart hopes; it’s not just imagination, but then she turns around and looks right through me. She’ll never see me or talk to me because of the way things are. Sarah and I are not friends anymore, but I have someone else to see, the force of Him.
He doesn’t live very far away, only about a mile. If I wanted to I could have been there by now. It’s better to walk. It’s better if I take my time and step on everything and look around, just like I used to.
All of the lights on his house are on. He sits on his porch. I know that in a few minutes he’ll jump in his car and go work the late shift. I know that he has a wife and a daughter. I can’t stop coming here every night. I know so much and I know nothing. I want to ask him why he drove after drinking. Why he still does. Why he got into the car. Why he drove away. I want to ask him why didn’t he tell anyone what happened? I wish I was strong enough to handle his answers.
He gets into his truck. I crawl into the back, tuck down to where he can’t see me. He starts the car, turns on the radio and drives. I’ve memorized the turns and stoplights, the combinations of lefts and rights that lead to his work. But he’s not going there. He turns left and I know where he’s going. He doesn’t park in the lot, just stops in the road and jumps out. I want to yell at him not to go, not to do it. He runs through a gate, over to a grave, he falls on his knees and cries. I glance at the two of them, him and the headstone. I don’t need the streetlight to know it’s my name carved into that gray rock. I see that truck and I see those headlights coming towards me. When he got out of his car to see what he had hit, the boozy stink clung to him the same way I cling to hope.
Written by Kristina Koval