Page 38 - WTP Vol. XI #5
P. 38

 Idid not go to any classes but pretended everything was normal each time my parents called; I spent three months walking around D.C. getting stoned, watching Obama from a tree branch sworn in for his second term, and eventually was expelled for truancy. When I flew home to Boston for Easter break and came through the airport doors waving to them, they still believed all was well, but I’d come home to confess.
We hugged in Logan’s pickup zone. Dad the professor in a Red Sox hat, Mom the curator in a corduroy suit —upbeat, happy, successful people. I wanted to de- liver my confession in the kitchen, so we drove west down route 2 in evasive chitchat. We took exit 50, the green sign and white number unexpectedly emo- tional, and crossed the stone bridge into the historic downtown. When our Victorian turret appeared in the trees I started to cry. Dad pulled into the drive- way, Mom turned in her seat.
“I’ve been kicked out.”
“They can’t kick you out for no reason,” Dad said.
“Brat,” Brother said, slicing my throat with his fingers and pulling off my scalp. I drew my revolver and plugged him twice in the chest and he fell in the grass, humming Adagio for Strings. I went for his scalp but he fought my hand away through laughter.
I had lied to them for months about being a student — all was not well; they had every reason for kicking
me out.
Lied?! Frightened, agonized faces.
“You’re an animal,” I said.
“Less so than you.”
Brother (as I called him) was three years older than me. In June we drove into Boston to celebrate his graduation from a good college with the extended family. The first family dinner after such a deep shame was horrible; everyone in the candlelight around the long wood table glinting with bottles, sil-
“And to your own detriment for that, you uncreature- ly pretender.”
The Failure
verware, bread and dark decanters noticed my newly bent-necked posture and tightened mouth, and I spread my gloom to diminish the contrast between my shame and the general good mood. When I saw how much the table suffered from my presence, I went outside. Mom came to find me on the street. I’d torn my shirt open. She suggested we plant an herb garden together.
In early June Mom brought some tools down to the garden behind the house and worked slowly and deliberately around her plants while I worked facing the golden light above the birch trees. Birds sang,
an oar knocked against a canoe on the river, a shrill scream came from playing children in the neighbor’s yard, and Brother came down the stone path through the roses, tall in black sweatpants with glowing skin.
“So are you,” he said.
I drew a sword to behead him.
“I just came to ask you,” he said, “if you want to play tennis at four.”
“Was that so difficult?”
“Who made it difficult? Unbelievable.”
He climbed the sloping lawn towards the house, leav- ing Mom and me very exposed to each other without him.
“Look,” she said, pointing her clippers. I came over. “You’re in the chives,” she said. I stepped out of
Ben cLeMents

   36   37   38   39   40