Everything is in disarray.
Screaming, crying, the sound of hands slapping skin. A discernable threat. The sounds of collection. Doors slamming.
And then a whimper.
Whispered words, emboldened by harshness.
"Why would you say that? Wh-wh-why? What the fuck?"
Spittle hitting the walls. A slam. Another. A shriek held in as long as it could be.
Standing, ceasing to pretend that I don't exist.
Stepping out from my invisible box and bringing myself back into the world.
A shout, a swat. Being told to go back to invisibility, that it's better. My existence is a mere complication.
She's shoved into a corner, face pressed against beige walls. Relentless shouts, pinches, spittle. Tears. An indiscernible face, puffy and wet. Shouts, shouts.
Ignoring warnings I find myself backed into the beige. I push and shove to no avail, more shrieks follow. Please don't exist, they say.
I find my way out into the cold. The concrete is dry against my bare feet, gravel burrows into the creases in my skin. The breeze sways through my curls.
"I think we need to make it stop. It has peaked again." They're called.
A brief conversation, tears and fear. The end of the world all over again.
Everyone goes back in, the dim light of the kitchen shines through thin skin. Authorities are called with the monotone of defeat and there's this silence.
It's strange, how it hangs.
Nothing has really stopped, it's just sitting. Stagnant, waiting.
I slip two slices of bread onto the counter, seeds fall from the crust onto the tarnished countertop. The dog presses her cold nose against my elbow.
There's a knock at the front door. No one uses that door. A façade, an appearance of normalcy. Several locks need to be undone.
There are two, one round like in the cartoons. The other lithe, darker, with a yellowing smile and wide questioning eyes. He laughs at the scene, for a moment.
A family in the throes of bedtime, thrown into a nightly war.
Words are grumbled, questions asked.
The dog wants attention. I take her to her cage and sit on the cold floor, threadbare pink pajama pants cold on the tile. I assure her that she's a "good girl" and lock the cage. Her tail hits the corners of the cage as she stares dumbly.
I cut open an avocado; I try to hit it out to no avail. Stabbing into the ball nearly bends the knife, I give up and cut around the diameter. I wonder if they judge me for my non-traditional avocado decisions.
I sink my knife in, extract the ball.
He stares at the table and listens, rocking back and forth. He knows this game, stays silent. The rumble of attempts filter through, unheard.
They make eye contact with everyone else.
His eyes never leave the knots in the wood.
The big cop calls him "buddy."
They ask questions and my father elongates the conversation by complaining about context, as though that will fix the situation. A constant search for sympathy.
"I've had a heart transplant, I can't have someone attacking me all the time."
"I think even those of us who have our own hearts would prefer to not be attacked," I say, looking up from my nearly frantic avocado-play.
Nervous laughter erupts. And then silence, a dissipated tension that now sits stagnant amongst strangers. That uncomfortable calm that knows there is no end to the disarray. But for tonight, it's enough.
Manic laughter follows more ill-placed jokes. I slather avocado on lettuce. The tomato is browning and I cut until I find red.
The vegetables sit in between freezer-burned bread, devil-may-care, waiting to be slipped into plastic for the night. They look at each of us, shaking, complaining, hard-eyed.
"Why did you say that?" I'm asked, "why not just keep your mouth shut? I'll be hearing about this for days."
But it won't restart. Not tonight.
And for tonight, that's enough.