Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Volume On

One arm around her waist, the other bent, a glowing stub jammed between
index and middle knuckles, the way men hold cigarettes. Wearing a tux,
he’s looking at her in her Jackie Kennedy wig and the lime silk dress my grandparents
brought back from the Orient (they called it the Orient then). Her head is tossed
back, laughing at something he said. Our parents are caught in the lens for a change
in this old home movie where there is nothing but silence. There is nothing but silence
as I sit and watch the hours of birthday parties, Christmas mornings and dinners
my brother has converted to video from reel-to-reel. Our childhood a vacuum,
our childhood muted. But I remember the sound of the front door squeaking open
and my brother looking up to see me on the landing. “She can hear you!” he
screamed at my parents, perched in the love seat, in their matching terry bathrobes, ice crackling and sliding in glasses they’d long stopped drinking from to negotiate the end of our family. Slipping off his maroon-and-cream varsity coat, my brother wrapped me in the scratchy fabric, the collar smelling of sweat and his girlfriend’s perfume, and carried me back to bed, while words still poured from their mouths.

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