The death-soup sticks to your insides, your dad will say. It’s too ugly, he’ll say. You can’t be there. He doesn’t want the traumatic memory to eat away at you for the rest of your life, the way it will eat away at him. So when he calls to tell you that your mother has finally died, you will be safely at the Texas Roadhouse with friends you’ll never see again.
He wants you to remember her as Christmas pie. “Or those goddamned dryer sheets that used to give you hives,” he’ll say, swallowing tears. The best bits. Remembering the best bits would keep you safe from annihilation.
You will remember. You will remember dirty napkins and margarita salt. Opening and shutting mouths. The shrieks of children who won’t sit down. Your silence after you disconnect the phone and an unfeeling void that should have been filled with pain endured for the sake of love. Staci’s passive face when you shrug as if nothing is wrong, as you ache for one more minute in the club of the untroubled. The safety of your whole, uneaten world. The safety will eat you, bit by bit.
Brittany Terwilliger is the managing editor of Pithead Chapel and her first novel, The Insatiables, was published by Amberjack Publishing in 2018. Find her on Twitter @Brttnyblm.