An Expression You Once Used
Having lunch with my family, who are growing up and also growing old. At times I catch glimpses of my father and there’s a likeness to the man I recognise, but mindless errors, faults that are breeding with age. Dad, I wanted to say, you need to trim your eyebrows. Dad, you have a coldsore, you shouldn’t be so stressed, eat more B vitamins. Dad, where did your comforting middle-age go?
It terrifies me, he is closer to death now more than ever. That’s obvious, I realise, but I have not paid attention, my extreme youth too frightening for me, too consumed to notice it draining from his face.
My older brother turning thirty and my youngest brother only five, with a dragon painted on his left cheek. Making jokes about gluten. I’ll Have Her Gluten, the thirty-year-old says, the little ones laugh too because there’s this sweet and delicate period of time where things can still be joyous even when you don’t understand them.
I feel like a pickpocket, stealing their conversation away from them. I don’t deserve this much. My words fall flat. I desperately want my face painted too.
Before, though, I was leaving somebody’s place at nine am and meeting my mother and my blood tests have come back and I am:
We laugh and smoke with our fruit and vegetables in the backseat, redeeming everything.
And after that I was in tears because it’s the twenty-sixth of February and I ask my flatmate for filters, placing the extra firm nectarines he loves, that I bought for him, on his set of drawers. The slightly marbled wood reflects my face, all of my fragile skin, aching eyes, waterlogged or shipwrecked. And he asks Are You Ok? And I say Yeah and also I have a red capsicum, because he is strange with preferences I don’t understand. I leave quickly and I hear him come into my room, he doesn’t say anything.
He just hugs me for minutes and I cry and cry and cry. Because it’s Today and I have an infection in my tears ducts I need to cry out, right? All he does is let me, and stands shirtless, I feel illustrated. He hands me a cigarette and opens my window, staring at me like he has just realised who he’s been living with or talking to.
And after that I leave to go to lunch.