In the dark guest room, soft little breezes escape from George’s
mouth. Beanie’s asleep too. I hook myself beneath his armpit. This is
how we sleep. George straight as a log and me curled into him like a
shrimp. Lying here in the dark, feeling his chest rise and fall against my
cheek, it almost feels like home.
“George?” I say. “Do you think Patty’s acting funny?”
He rumbles. “What?” he blurts so loudly that I hush him.
I bend toward the good ear. “Do you think she’s been drinking? Why
did she walk into the door?”
How deeply he dreams, as if this were a normal day.
I wake up raging at the world. I didn’t sleep well. The cat wailed; George
snored; the house rattled when trucks wove down the road. The baby
knocks in my stomach to remind me that she needs sleep too.
In the kitchen, Patty stirs oatmeal on the stove. “Good morning!”
Who is this pearly homemaker who has replaced my sister? She
scoops oatmeal into a bowl and drizzles maple syrup on top.
“Just sit down, will you?” I say. “Aren’t you going to eat?”
“Oh, no, I never eat breakfast.”
She pours a cup of coffee for George, hip cocked like a waitress.
“Are you all packed?” Patty asks George.
“There’s nothing to pack,” I say.
“I’ll pick up some stuff in LA,” says George.
She hands me a pile of clothes. “Hopefully they’ll fit.” She eyes my
plump body. “You look like you’ve put on a little weight.”
George glares at me.
“Thank you,” I say through clenched teeth.
She puts the pot in the sink to soak. “I have a few patients this morn-
ing, but I’ll be back around noon to take you to the airport, George.”
Once she’s gone, George works on his laptop, writing to promoters
and radio stations.
“Can you wash the dishes?” asks George. “We should be better
I accost the oatmeal pot with a sponge. There’s a Patty shrine on the
fridge: magazine and newspaper clippings. Hidden beneath a few win-
dowpanes printed with Patty’s picture is a Polaroid of my parents. I dry
my hands and pluck it from the fridge. My dad with the usual can of
MGD buckling in his fist, his arm wrapped around my mom’s shoulders.