Heather—his youngest daughter, my sister, his baby, the one
who always gave in
when he needed money for rent
or drugs—left me with her three girls outside McDonald’s,
while she drove Dad
for a carton of cigs and a Playboy. The girls forced me
to play freeze tag. I picked
at my fingernails, ripping off a half-moon
on each hand. I remember the sky
sprayed the grass with sunlight
while Sophia and Chloe squashed the picnic
ants with their tiny fists. I helped
Penny look for clover, and when we found a four-leafed one,
somehow, no one cared. If I could go back, I’d press it
into my palm and say, Get ready. Soon
they’re going to find him dead in his apartment
across the street. The water will be running in the sink.

From Hunger Mountain Issue 22: Everyday Chimeras, which you can purchase here, or consider a two-year subscription for $18.

Cover Image: Nowinski, Maggie. “Unknown Tongues” 2017. Pen and ink on paper, 26″ x 40″.