5.09 / September 2010

What I Would Have Said to My Sister When She Was 16 and I Was 23

There are People In My House I Don’t Know and I am Drunk and they are Drunk and I hope no one falls off the front porch roof because we have No Railing except the two strands of lights I have looped around the corner posts and one of the lights has burned out and they are Dead. The yard is Black and the tar-papered porch roof is Black and I am sitting on the front edge dangling my legs like You did at the pool when you were six because I am Drunk and I hope no one falls off. We filled the claw footed cast iron bathtub with bags of ice that will not melt until we shower tomorrow and buried six beers each that looked insignificant until People I Don’t Know added six packs and someone brought a Tupperware of red stuff that tastes like Hawaiian Punch and We used to like Hawaiian Punch so I have some and now I am Drunk and I wish I could tell You.

And Kate shut her bedroom doors around a circle of People I Don’t Know and the Beautiful Indian Boy rolling a joint asked me to stay and People I Don’t Know asked me to stay and Kate asked me to stay but the CD of rap music You gave to me last month just ended, and the house was too loud so I left. I changed the CD to music You don’t like and pulled another tray of Jell-O shots from the fridge and wound through rooms like Martha Fucking Stewart offering peachcherrylimeorange Dixie cups to People I Don’t Know. And Marcus went to the 24 hour Lebanese place because Emily kissed him in the street and bought the sauteed mushrooms in the Styrofoam cup that are always too hot to eat but we ate them and burned our fingers and they were the best goddamned mushrooms we had ever had but You wouldn’t understand because You think mushrooms taste like dirt. And Emily went inside for more beer and Mandy gave me her picnic blanket and I am sitting on the front edge of our porch roof dangling my legs and it is Dark and I am Tired.

Tomorrow is Graduation, not mine, and I will drag myself from sleep and pitch into the bathtub full of ice and beer and it will take too long to melt and I will be late. I will feel like I have been buried in hot sand up to my neck, everything pressing and gritty and sharp, and it will be two more years before You graduate from High School and You could already be drinking but Our Mother won’t find out until Prom. She will raise me from sleep at 6AM on a Saturday with the shrill ring of our old kitchen phone and I will be 1112 miles away from You and think that You are Dead or Dying and will rocket from bed in a visceral sweat clutching the receiver for news that never comes because it is just Our Mother yelling at me for not Telling her what she Would Not See, yelling because You were Drunk.

But right now I am sitting in the Dark on my Black porch roof and none of that has happened yet and I am not thinking about the Graduation or the Phone Call the morning after You pounded five beers in one hour and then pissed the bed because I am worried that the Man I Don’t Know who is pissing onto our neighbor’s truck might fall because our yard is Black and the tar-papered porch roof is Black and the two strands of lights I have looped around the corner posts are Dead. I am worrying about him and about People I Don’t Know in Kate’s bedroom because That Police Cruiser just passed us for the third time and because I am sleeping with a Boy Who Does Not Love Me he just loves the Idea of me and because 254 miles away You are Cutting Yourself, tracing pointed lines onto Your smoothwhitepalefreckledtaut arms with what tool I do not know because I cannot Ask. I do not know how to Ask and You do not know how to Tell and so I change the CD again and I Drink.

And we forget Mandy’s picnic blanket on the Black porch roof where it has been rained on and dried, rained on and dried, rained on and dried cardboard stiff so I peel it from tar paper and pummel it into the washing machine and Mandy doesn’t want it back so I press it into the box of bedding I Keep and not the box I give to Kirstin and not the box I take to Goodwill and so Our Father and his New Wife load it into the truck while Kate smokes away her leaking tears because Something is ending and Daniel and I take One Last Look around my room with the fireplace and he kisses me even though we are both Dating Other People and in a year he will be engaged and in another she will break him in two and I will know he will feel he’s been run through with a dull knife yet I will not know Your Boyfriend’s last name. And then I am hugging Kate goodbye and I am leaving this house and I am leaving Our Father and his New Wife and I am leaving Our Mother and I am leaving You and I am sorry. And we leave the two strands of lights for whoever comes after and Our Father looks at the porch roof, frowning because it is Not Safe, and I laugh because You are Not Safe and I don’t know You any more than I know the People In My House and I hope that You do not fall because we have No Railing and it is Dark. Black.