Let go of the balloons at your shins. The helium no longer works.

Don’t worry about closing the screen door. It doesn’t matter what we let in or out.

Those packed bags . . . Are they for a family picnic or for my predicted departure?

I’m not at a loss for words. I’m just at a loss, wading inside it, like plunging under saltwater only to find myself drifting upwards in the sludge of an oil spill. I can burst through the surface, yet anything I might say sounds suffocating, distant, nonsensical.

All sounds you’ve heard from the beginning, becoming louder and louder and louder and lingering on and on and on.

I stand outside the house I used to never fit inside. Knocking on the door with the reversed peephole. Trying to find a home key I never duplicated. Climbing up the back tree only to see the limbs that once caressed the house have been cut.

The lawn is my soccer field but I’ve shown up on the wrong day. I can’t see anybody in the windows. No tiny waving hand through the glass. No sneaky little smile showing up by the back door. No cackle of laughter just beyond.

Just beyond.

What’s just about anything and what’s beyond all of this? Have I stepped inside the just beyond because there’s nothing just about this empty, hollow hole.

I’m not daydreaming, not anymore, not here and now. This is a full-fledged nightmare. Waging war with the only person it can find.


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