The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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I couldn’t see the loaves in her oven, but I could smell them. They smelled like the perfect weight of blankets on a winter night; like the loving and attentive parents I thought I deserved; like the solution to every natty problem that might crop up in life.
I was unable to protect my children from heartache. I couldn’t keep them from the pain of it. But I could ease their journey by helping them light their dead hamster’s funeral pyre.
When did the distance from the bed to here become twenty-six miles? That pair of pants I stepped over, you see that? Goddamn Everest that was.
Some of us have faced devastating losses of jobs or homes or family members, and some of us have more time to take up hobbies and house projects. Some of us pop our trunks open, and some of us fill them.
“Imagine if we’d known,” I said. “If you’d had a diagnosis, you could have been given lithium or something to help you.” Joan lifted her hands to her face and sobbed.
They take turns at the feeders, but if one lingers too long, the others — usually males — will jabber insults until the offender leaves. I have a secret nickname for the house sparrows: Little A-holes.
After work we would be headed to Smitty’s Bar, where the twangy music would kick up, and I’d try to find the courage to dance in public.
I’m sick of being defined by the prison experience and long to be a normal human being with a past that doesn’t need to be discussed.
When you have been through something terrible, and you know deep down the outcome could have been otherwise, you develop a strange gratitude for everyday life. The smallest acts of generosity can make you cry.
Home is 1.1 miles away, about a five-minute bike ride. I can feel the distance in my gut, like a rubber band with one end attached to my apartment and the other to my lower intestine.