I don’t complain when my mother drinks. I don’t say a solitary word the Friday nights she comes home from the Roundup, lists through the dining room with tequila splashed across her skirt, purse full of scratch-offs and millwrights’ phone numbers. I just let her carom into the bathroom, turn on the spigot, lower her head, and knee the door shut. I don’t even give her a hard time Saturday mornings when all she can eat are Tums and generic aspirin.
Since the Army’s visit about my dad, she’s stopped asking me questions too. Math, science, the money missing from her purse. Nothing about the diet pills or four tiny x’s incised on the inside of my left thigh under my legging—one for each boy. We both know the calm can’t last. Inside us hurricanes turn, gather unfathomable strength. But for just now, this trapeze silence—the universe’s tiny benison.
Damian Dressick is the author of the novel 40 Patchtown (Bottom Dog Press) and the experimental story collection Fables of the Deconstruction (forthcoming CLASH Books 2021). His fiction has appeared in more than fifty literary journals and anthologies, including W.W. Norton’s New Micro, Post Road, failbetter.com, Cutbank, Hobart, New Orleans Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and New World Writing. He teaches at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and co-hosts WCoNA Live, a virtual reading series featuring writers of Appalachia. Damian can be found online at www.damiandressick.com.