The Words

George Kassimiss

I remember the darkness of the room. I remember the smell of silicon dripping from the newly sealed corners. My eyes were burning from the glare of the television, for the past few hours were spent tiring my fingers out with the game controller. My brother had drifted off to never land, his eyes half opened as they always were when he entered R.E.M. Because of his slumber, I set the volume of the television to three. I could barely make out the words my character spoke as I investigated the virtual crime. I never could figure out who stole governor’s left shoe. But still, I remember the date. It was September 13th, 2007. It was a Thursday, and I remember feeling that even though Friday the 13th meant misfortune, something about just missing that date was unsettling. What I now know is that September 13th, 2007 would be the day that would change me forever.

My mother entered quietly into our apartment. Our house has two entrances. There is the front door to the apartment building, then, there is the two-door walkway into our apartment. At the top of the stairs, right in front of our door, there is a woodcarving. Originally, it was intended to be a simple star. An illustration meant to enforce the idea that you were now entering a “dream” home (what irony that suggested). But it turns out, upon first glance; it looks just like the Star of David. My family is not even Jewish.

She slowly creaked her way up each step, noticing the noise the past stair made and decreasing her weight on either leg for each rising motion. She then calmly opened the two-doors that entered into our apartment, and rejected the compassion our dog offered to newcomers. As I paused my reading of The Catcher In The Rye, a pretty depressing book to read at nine years old, I rose from my bed and greeted her. I found her resting upon the stool in the kitchen, resting her eyes, reeking of cigarettes. She had been smoking since the age of twelve. She was then thirty-seven. Still, she was beautiful. But you could tell the toll of the deli and her relationships had taken a toll on her. She was a sad and tired woman. She was afraid of her own shadow. Her and my father had opened Homefront Deli back in 1994. I remember the year perfectly because the business was founded only two months after the suicide of Kurt Cobain. I base a lot of things that happened on “before-Kurt” and “after-Kurt”. My father, an extremely selfish man with no drive, had still been at work. If ever a statement was made on what his dream job would be, it would be a disability allowance. They had a routine of having her work the morning shift, and him work the day shift. She had come home early because she was supposedly ill. When I spoke to her, I could feel the spirit of her being reflect in her eyes. They shimmered and changed from green to blue as they did when she was on the verge of tears. But when she uttered the words, I could not provide support. I could not be the caring, happy-go-lucky child I had been since the age of infancy.

I proceeded to charge at my doorframe. I slammed the door behind me and hid in the corner under my turtle tank. I specifically chose that spot as my hiding place because it was cool from the water that flowing above me. It was also dark and decrepit and I could read H.P. Lovecraft and not have to deal withe lights of New York City outside my window. But I did not read this time, and I scraped my knee as I fell into the cabinet. I remember feeling nothing. I felt myself choking on tears, but the emptiness in my stomach made me starve from the salt water in my eyes. I felt like an amputated leg. I thought that maybe everything my father had said was a lie. “I love this family”, “I love your mother”. I then proceeded to feel ashamed. I was afraid to face my friends and my cousins. How could I be the failure? How could the loud, artistic George be the failure in the family? I did this! It is all my fault!

But then I proceeded to fall asleep, with the words “we’re getting a divorce” echoing in my young, fragile mind.