This Is Us

Remember This

‘If you must scream, scream beautifully’

Closeup of a hand using a lit match to light another match.
Closeup of a hand using a lit match to light another match.
Photo: Marcos André via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

1.

When you were 15, your father tore your baby pictures like old receipts. The ones in frames he set beside the dumpster. He put on his favorite record, made your brother a tuna sandwich. Whistled.

Ten years later, a man called you a canary in a cage.

Said, No one knows the bird is starving if it doesn’t sing.

Funny, isn’t it?

Woman:

If you must scream, scream beautifully.

Whistle.

2.

There is an alligator in the bedroom.

You found it there like a rug when you changed the sheets this morning, while he crawled from the bed to his car like a beggar.

Now there are two versions of you:

The one before you found the alligator and the one who found the alligator and shrugged.

There’s a siren blaring down the street. You reach for the phone and your hand twitches. There are several sirens, and a tail wraps around your ankles.

One eye closes — a filmy wink.

The doorbell rings twice.

You slip off your bra, his boxers.

You pull its jaws open and crawl in.

3.

Your father is homeless.

Sorry, wait —

Your neighbors would like you to say,

My father is experiencing homelessness

as he would the Louvre or his golden years or a fucking Beyond Burger

No.

You’d like them to cup their hands over your ear like a shell and whisper,

CUNT DAUGHTER

and

BITCH SISTER

and

SELFISH WHORE

while you close your eyes and sigh while you watch the paint peel from your childhood bedroom ceiling hear the sliding door gasp at your mother’s tug feel the cat curl at your ankles and die.

They won’t do this, but you bet they might if your father had a sexier problem, like Parkinson’s.

You’re being difficult.

Let’s start over.

Your father is homeless.

You’d like me to cup my hands around your ear like a shell and whisper,

Baba

while you close your eyes and sigh while you see him in a tent of the most beautiful colors eating from a bottomless pot of stew that never goes cold in a circle of forgotten men found.

minx. oakland, ca.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store