The Reason I Let Him In

by Sharyl Collin

It was my fault my stepfather got in that morning. My friend
Carol and I were playing with the baby, my mother still asleep,
the door to her room guarded by the smell of her breath – that
stuffy, sleep-drenched breath that smells like avoidance. It
patrolled her room like a jailer with a club, more powerful
than lion’s urine. Sleeping isn’t my vice. My children might
notice avoidance when I play 2048, a phone game with
numbered blocks, like numbers combining, 2s to 4, 4s to 8,
and so on, until one block makes it all the way to 2048, which
I’m not able to do nearly as often as I would hope. Carol and I
were using blocks that morning to build a tower, sitting in front
of my sister’s crib when he knocked. My mother had kicked
him out again. I wasn’t sure if it was for his drinking or because
of another woman. I was glad she’d kicked him out, except
she wouldn’t let me visit my dad. The other kids had gone,
but she said I had to stay and help with the baby. When my
stepfather showed up, I was annoyed. I had this thing for order,
and it bothered me when the baby destroyed the tower I’d taken
so long to balance. I picked up the blocks and rebuilt it, but she
just knocked it down again. Carol laughed, so the baby did it
over and over, until they were both on their backs laughing,
and Carol wasn’t paying any attention to me at all. So when he
showed up, I let him in. He promised through the screen that he
was there to apologize. I wanted to believe him, and figured
he would wake my mother so she could help with the baby.
And he did wake her, but then he chased us out of the house
with a knife. We grabbed the baby and ran next door to Carol’s
house, while he jumped in his car. He skidded onto the lawn
as we slammed the door. Carol’s mom called the police, and
sirens screamed toward us. The cops surrounded the car and
someone yelled for towels. When they opened the door I could
see his bloody wrists just hanging there without any power
at all.  Carol ran outside with the towels. White towels. I can
still see her rinsing them with the hose, the red running to a pink
that wouldn’t fade.  Later, when my mother asked me why I’d
let him in, I didn’t know how to explain that it had to do with
the blocks.


Copyright 2015, Sharyl Collin

Sharyl Collin practices music, photography and poetry.  Her poems have appeared in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Mason’s Road Literary Journal, *82 Review, Lummox, and The Intentional.  She lives in Torrance, California, with her family.

Prior      Contents       Next