Listening

Through the peeling wall I listen as you pop your knuckles one by one. Each pop makes me twitch. Twitches that I barely notice, perhaps because I have become so used to them over the year. Delicate pops of destruction echoing through the wall. A wall that I pray will never crumble. I am safe, I always tell myself, if I never ever have to leave this room again.

In the morning, more popping and crackling sound through the wall and wakes me. The gentle cracking of those tired bones in your body. You start with your toes, i imagine, and it travels all the way upwards as you stretch out of bed and head to the bathroom.

Not even a “morning” from you as you stumble into the kitchen. You open the fridge. Not to make me breakfast. Not to make yourself breakfast. Just reaching for something to make yourself forget that the world and I exist. You pop the bottle and let it flow down your throat like a river to the sea. Every day, I watch you and I fear that I might one day come home from school to find you drowning in your own filth. But I am too afraid to stop you.

With your beer in one hand and the bills in the other, you sit at the kitchen table. You furrow your brows as you open each bill and stack them up high on the table. You don’t even care enough to look and see if I’m eating my bowl of cereal. Not even to make sure if I’ve been clothed properly. The cereal, it tasted bad with OJ, because you never remember the milk.

My cereal was only half finished, but you didn’t give a damn. For a moment I there I wanted smile and wish you a good day. Instead, I just grabbed my books. Slowly, I closed the door behind me, hoping that you might say something.

Today, we spoke no words, just like every other morning. But I wanted to. Every morning I try to. One day, I console myself, I will eventually have the courage to tell you. I’ll say, “Hurting me won’t bring her back.” And, “I miss her just as much as you do.”

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