There’s a table between us. Hard stretch of compressed wood and Formica finish. Golden streaks twirl in a kind of marble replica stained by chocolate and salsa remnants of yesterday’s dinner. Words seem to spill out onto the table like the drip of water from the faucet to your right. You’re sorry. You say that you don’t deserve me. There is no excuse. I watch the swirls of gold and brown rippling through the Formica and complain that you can’t look me in the face. You wash dishes as though the fate of the world depended on it. There is something more here, so I choose to dig deeper and leave the table, walking to the bedroom without turning back. This interplay goes back and forth for a while as we shift from room to room like changing sets- our life a play of emotion and reticence. I’ve ended where I started and sit again at the kitchen table. Everything is still now, and I see that you have changed. You sit twisted head turned in profile a bandana of red and orange streaks covers your curls. You keep saying it is no excuse. No excuse for being so irresponsible, but I know now that something new is coming. Your chin begins to twitch and then a slight quiver turns into an earthquake of emotion and you tell me that your great uncle has passed away.
A new sequence of emotions begins. Explanations, anger, reticence and comfort spill into the Formica, but the swirls remain unchanged. Eventually, we change scenes and you are curled up legs folded under you and I want to embrace your whole body and take you into me; my body a womb to soothe you. Confessions of true fear float to my ears like wisps of smoke and I strain to hear without interruption. You are so strong you say. You talk of fear, of a line of thought from generation to generation, fear intertwined like a tide of seaweed sticking to you in arbitrary places and difficult to remove. You are afraid of your father’s eventual death and that I have been through it already.