The way the calls come late at night, and the way that you don’t sleep. Lie staring at the ceiling; know that you must leave town in the morning.
The way you need to buy an apple pie for the drive. Let it sit upon your lap the whole way home. You don’t even like it all that much, the pie. But you need the warm flaky crust, the baked apple, the smell, sitting in the front seat of a car. Something nice to think about.
After a death, family gathers in the home. Spaced out. Two on the porch, one pacing in the yard. Auntie does the dishes while my father brews coffee. Brother’s gone for sodas at the store.
Their breadsticks are the best, someone says, filling up a plate.
I know—try the macaroni. It’s outrageous.
Four people eat; three people stare at the wall and utter strange words to the ceiling.
Can you believe it, someone says. At least it’s nice that all of us can be together.
The couches are all filled and yet one chair sits empty. We move it out of view. Into the next room, where it can soak up all the echoes of the outer space.
In the room for families, people enter and then leave. Too heavy all the atmosphere it clogs the lungs. Sit and sink into a couch where mouths are quiet. Whispers. Skin touching thighs touching the uncomfortable squelch when they must come apart.
Try the pie, it was fresh baked this morning. We got it on our way back into town. Dutch apple—their best one.
Someone leaves. Someone replaces someone else. All the echoes of the outer space.