Memories huddle like fugitives. My father, tall. His stony scowl separates two worlds: family, a kind of mind; strangers, matter to be observed. At a distance. (We could catch diseases or learn bad ways or waste time or get into trouble that lay in ambush everywhere.) My rebellious older brother fled into early marriage and left our town. He was killed a year later in one of the ever more common military actions. I’m young. I was not close to him. My father hides his grief. My mother never seemed well after that. I remember her as a fading fragrance in the room.
My father’s house. Later becoming my house. Small evergreen bushes in front. The fence, broken by a gang of kids. Mended. Broken again. Cedar shingles turning black. Antimacassars covering worn spots on my father’s chair and on the sofa. My sons—Michael chasing Charles into the back yard. Serafina making dinner. I close my eyes and the kitchen appears, smelling of holiday turkey, drippings crackling in a pan. I can taste the house.
A Guard sprays disinfectant. I cough. He shoots an extra dose at me. “Wanna smell good in case you go to the Love Room!” He laughs and moves on. I want to kill him.