Before Thailand

The car was in the driveway.

I didn’t want it to be there.

The car was in the driveway.

I walked up the steps front steps and knocked on the door. It was a thick red door. I didn’t think he would be able to hear me. I knocked three times and waited. There was no answer.

I went to the side of the house and knocked on the kitchen door. That door was thinner with a window and I knew that the sound would go all through the house. There was no answer. But the car was in the driveway.

I went the ground floor window that looked into his room. The curtains were shut. I pounded on the window and it made a loud clamoring sound. There was no answer.

The back gate was in front of me. I knew the combination to the lock.

“What are you doing?”

*

There was a room with light in it. It was a window as wide as the whole length of the house. The room was a rectangle, very shallow and wide. The floor slanted forward and the ceiling too. It was my favorite place—the most beautiful room I ever got to call my own. You could turn a crank to step out of the window and onto the roof. There was no curtain on the window and the room was swallowed with light.

I spun around and saw him, standing outside of the kitchen door. There were 3 steps leading up to the door. He was standing at the top.

“You didn’t answer your phone,” I said.

“I was busy.”

“Is she here?”

“Yes.”

“Was she here last night too?”

“Yes.”

The sun was shining and it was July. The white cement of the driveway was broken up with clumps of overgrown weeds. At black metal railing stuck out of the concrete steps to the kitchen door.

“You said you weren’t going to do that.”

“I never said that.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes. YOU. DID!!”

*

The night that it happened Marie lit a fire. I was in my room full of moonlight and crying, but Marie was outside by the fire. She threw in all the scrap wood we had dug from under the weed garden until it burned into a pillar. Will walked out to her when he heard the yelling upstairs and saw the fire outside. “Yes, it is sad,” she said to him. “It’s very sad.” She didn’t move her eyes away from the fire.

When it was over it was past midnight. Marie was asleep on the couch in the kitchen. Our rooms were one room with a door in between them. Avery went downstairs to tell her it was over, but she didn’t want to come back to her own bed. He stayed downstairs talking to her for a long time.

*

I screamed so loud that his face went pale and he jerked backwards. I lunged, but stopped at the bottom step, my hand clutching the black railing. I was shaking.

His face went from bewildered to stern.

“Don’t, hit me.”

“I wasn’t going to hit you,” I spat.

“You just lunged at me.”

I don’t remember what I said back. Everything collapsed into a chaos of noise.

*

Marie didn’t touch a drop of alcohol until after her twenty-first birthday. She wore a red dress and we got drunk together for the first time at the birthday party of a girl who didn’t like me. We sat down on the floor by a wall where there was no one. Avery was off mingling with musician boys. We said, “Fuck all these hipsters,” and giggled.

*

“I hate you! I hate you! How could you do this to me? I hate you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“But you’re not going to do anything different.”

“No.”

“Then you’re not fucking sorry.”

The kitchen door opened with a loud squeal of the hinges. Everything stopped. Marie’s face was like stone.

*

When we were nineteen we wanted to give a present to Marie’s boyfriend for his birthday. His birthday was on Halloween. Our present was that we sang and acted out the Mariner’s Revenge Song. I was the mariner and Marie was the rake and the mother. Just after midnight we gathered everyone in the living room and turned off the music. We sang it a Capella. When we reached the instrumental part at the end I slung her arm in mine and began spinning round and round, singing “Da da, da da, da de da de dum de da de da da,” faster and faster and faster. Her boyfriend was too drunk to remember anything the next morning except for being really happy.

*

“I think you need to leave.”

“I’m not leaving.”

She frowned. “I really think you should.”

“How could you do this? How can you be my— You don’t care do you? You don’t care about being friends anymore.”

“You lost me as a friend a long time ago.”

“Oh, really. Thanks for letting me know. Since when?”

“Since you changed.”

“When did I change? When you started wanting to fuck my boyfriend. Is that when I changed?”

“You’re so selfish and rude.”

“I’m selfish? Fucking look into a mirror.”

“You think this is all about you, don’t you. Wake up. This has nothing to do with you. Believe it or not, this exists outside of you. Try and get that through your head.”

*

There’s a swing in the park and Marie is swinging on it. We are seventeen waiting at the park across from the movie theater. I know her because she does my hair in theater class. I have blonde hair that falls down to my waist and she has red hair just as long. She braids my hair and makes a crown on top of my head that takes forever. While I perform she sits with a needle in her mouth and a long wool skirt in the audience, sewing up pieces of costumes. We swing together on the swings and there are wood chips underneath us and the sky is overcast and cool.

*

“I’m not leaving until I’m done with this conversation.”

“Conversation? You call this a conversation? You’re having a fucking temper tantrum.”

I spoke slow with a steady voice. We never broke eye contact.

“I’m not leaving until I’m done talking with him.”

Marie looked at Avery and he said nothing. She closed the door without turning her back to me. When she was gone I started crying.

“How can you just stand there and let her talk to me like that?”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re a spineless fuck.

When there was nothing more to say I walked home and went straight to the back porch. There were pine trees stretching out over parts of the deck and Sonja’s dog was inside the house. I lay down with my cheek on the warm wood in the July sunlight and screamed.

*

The room with the window is gone. The window is packed up inside of a box. I took the box out to the back yard and smashed the window until it was all slivers of glass. It was a stupid thing to do.

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