I am biting into a cookie. Chocolate chip. This is back before cookies were soft and pliant and there would be no crumbs falling to the kitchen floor, linoleum covered with the faint of yellow wax.
It is Tuesday, and my father is late for dinner again. Outside the window, beyond the orange flower curtains, the trees are green and budding. It is April, and everything is young.
I hear the hallway door slam open; an umbrella being stabbed into the stand. It didn’t rain the way mother insisted it would.
I am biting into a cookie when the shadow that is my father walks in. My mother has taken the broom from the closet and is sweeping crumbs into the dustbin. She is kneeling to get the smallest crumbs, and turns her head startled towards my father.
I am biting into a cookie and my mouth freezes open into a cave as my father pulls my mother up by the collar of her flowered housedress. I’ve seen this before. His arm above his head. Tornado in his fist.
My mouth closes around a scream as he lets go of her and crumbles into himself, his arm falling to his side. His face as purple and twisted as a howl.
The grass outside a shiver in the wind, the only sound until the hee-haw of the ambulance whooshing up the street. My mother lifting up my father’s face, brushing crumbs off of his cheek, sweeping everything off to the side.
Francine Witte from New York City