In Memoriam

I have a habit of downplaying things, accepting it all as normal. It's how I cope. But he knows it isn't normal. He's the only one who listens in my own private dystopia.

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2. Normalcy

I am normal.

This is normal.

What is normal?

"Yo man, do you think you could bring the dishes up from the basement? I'm trying to finish loading the dishwasher, and mom wants me to make sure the dishes from the basement are in it."

My voice echoes into the basement. I don't want to go down there, they get awfully cranky while playing their computer games. Racial epithets and colorful curses and shouts ring back up, and I roll my eyes. They're overgrown twin beanpoles at age sixteen, trying to appear threatening when they're lanky with beards that look like someone slapped a bunch of pubes on their face with glue.

"Fuck off!" one yells. So she and he come up with the idea that we should unplug the internet temporarily, so we do, and I hide it neatly in a grocery bag, and sure enough, boom, boom, boom, they come pounding up the stairs.

"What the fuck did you do to the internet?"

I say nothing, continue chopping vegetables for dinner. Mom's out, as usual, she's in Florida, Dad's in China.

He throws a chair to the ground, I stare in morbid fascination as slides across the ground, aluminum on tile. The boyfriend turns and stares at me.

This was a bad idea, his eyes say, and I agree.

"I hid it," she says, my little sister. "Bring up the dishes, and you get it back."

He's livid, that much I can see, and I'm terrified, so I keep chopping, dicing tomatoes smaller and smaller and dumping them into the salsa bowl. He swipes it off the table. Dinner spatters everywhere, shattering on the floor.

"You're not making dinner until the internet is returned," he growls. I stare at the floor and begin picking up the pieces.

"And you," he turns to my sister. She runs up the stairs, but he runs after her, the thundering footsteps echoing throughout the large, empty house. Boom, boom, boom. I hear screams, and my throat jumps. He's hurting her. I run up to her room, and sure enough, he's on top of her hitting her and she's screaming about how he took her candy and ate it. He sucker punches her, gets on top of her and doesn't stop, smashing her head against the floor. 

What do I do? What do I do? My fingers tremble, this isn't normal, this is wrong, I'm scared. I wish my parents were here to do something. The boyfriend pushes me aside, barricading him from little sister, a meat shield.

"Don't you dare lay a finger on her."

"She threw the first punch!"

"Don't you dare touch her."

"She hurt me more then I hurt her!"

Little sister stares up at me, split lip, bruises already forming on her creamy white skin, and she smiles.

"I did hurt him, I threw the first punch. I'm fine." She jumps up to prove it.

I want to call the police but I stop myself. It's normal. Just a sibling fight, I tell myself. And that's exactly what my mother says when she comes home, when I tell her the truth, after the glass is cleaned up and the salsa mopped up and I have little cuts on my hands and arms.

Her only complaint is that I didn't get dinner out fast enough for everyone to eat and the kitchen is a mess.

So for that I get a series of smacks across my face and arms.

The boyfriend is in the other room, but he can hear the thwacks of palm on skin. He walks in. Immediately my mother stops and storms out, muttering about being tired.

I collapse. I've not been feeling well all week. The fever's back and it's spiking. He carries me to bed and lays me down and I sleep for a few hours until the next morning when we'll be going to Florida.

It's normal.

Just sibling fights.

It's normal.

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