by Alivia Begin
One. Mama told me my father held the pistol cold against her temple, her scalp sweating onthe black metal. I wedged my hands between the cushions and brought my knees to my chest,watching her mouth turning down and her thumb wrapping into the sleeve of her shirt. I wished Ihad worn something warmer.
Two. In first grade, Ms. Mayer read a picture book about thunderstorms and lightning bugs.The characters would sit under the stairs and count until the next boom and shake of the house-their scorched breaths and tight grips on each other’s arms turning fingers white.
Three. She tells me to close my eyes, that it’ll be easier if we just leave. I sleep as mamadrives, and the week-old snow turns a neon yellow under my eyelids. My cheeks warm, restingon the sun soaked seatbelt.
Four. Baby kissed me with scarlet fever lips and pneumonia blue hands shaking. I left the redrimmed cup of whiskey sweating on the dresser. Five. Our bodies remember; mine, mama’s. It’s like the feeling when you hear a tree falling,then going to the window to see what’s left.
Six. My father says I should be able to talk to him about things. His knuckles burn the rubberon the steering wheel and I remember mama. Just to make him feel better, I tell him I don’t
really have a close relationship with her, either.
Seven. A nightmare under purple covers and peach canopies. Three-years-old under the bed,weak threats and rough ocean tides seeping through the cracks under the door, and I can nolonger breathe.
Eight. Mama tells me to not be so selfish. My forearm bangs the counter’s edge and I wince.
The back of my neck goes to rouge.
Nine. I’m sitting next to the living room couch, my father’s leg against my torso. I curl intomyself. Have you been counting, dad? Do you know how long it’s been?
Ten. I hear Mama talk to my would-have-been brother and sister on Sunday mornings, herright palm is pressed to her womb and she lies on the mattress. I step out of the doorway andwalk back to the kitchen for a glass of water.
Eleven. I seem to seek the hands wrongly shaped. Baby sets his fingers on my side andsmudges kisses fit for damage against my neck.
Twelve. My eyes are closed and I see Ms. Mayer as she kept her forefinger and thumb againstthe pages. Now, my neck strains to look at the window, through wind and rain, still counting.
Author Bio: Alivia Begin is a junior at East Granby High School and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. Recently affected by the loss of three loved ones by suicide, Alivia has dedicated much of her efforts toward the path through grief and discovering herself and her voice within her writing.