at the office

“I’m intelligent. I listen to Bach.”

And so the ridiculous could never touch you.

It wasn’t so long ago, when you sat on a couch with cushions left sticky. Your mother’s planner poked out of her medium handbag, cyan Post-its murmuring dates upon dates of appointments you both wished weren’t necessary. Your laugh rang clear while her face remained blank and still like the walls that stood for nearly four decades. Still unattended. No one in town knew how to paint.

The TV lodged in the dustiest corner played Chicken Little on repeat. It didn’t annoy either of you, because only someone who was hopelessly out of this world would disagree that the sky was falling. Your mom tapped the pen against her cheek, resolved to prove that one day, you would become more than the world while of course, you knew everything about what it could offer.

Does the child show a fixation with violence and gore?

She sighed and you counted the ant bites around your ankles. A big red marker might’ve worsened the itch. You loved connecting the dots. You loved drawing dashed lines on faded corduroy. Somewhere at home, she kept your drawing stashed in a folder. The teddy bear resting on dehydrated clouds.

The more she circled “yes” to all those questions, the louder you laughed when she walked away. You expressed, but you did not speak. You heard, but you did not answer.

Eventually, she talked to more people, hope wilting like wet shoestrings.


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