When Tay-Lin comes over, just before, I take the elevator to my room and hide. I’m not afraid of Tay-Lin, she’s pretty and shy, I just don’t like being around people much. I go to my room and shut the door loudly, then open it a crack and listen.
Mom must value Tay-Lin as a listener because she never shuts up in front of her. Only sometimes do I hear this leafy sound which means Tay-Lin is speaking. When Mom asks her over I know it’s because she’s got something on her mind and she wants to dump it onto someone else’s mind. She talks about things she probably wouldn’t talk about if she thought I was listening. Or if Dad was around. One time she told Tay-Lin she didn’t care much for milk in tea and she never really loved my dad. She married him because it was something to do. It was an uncertain time in her life because she was having seizures. She wasn’t supposed to conceive on seizure meds but god’s an eccentric and she’s proud she was gifted with such a beautiful child. When she said that I shut the door and cried for a long time. When I opened it again I could just hear leaves.
Another time, Mom said how hard her life was and wondered why god was punishing her. I’m not just a wheelchair kid: I double as a kind of holy wrath.
Listening to her, overhearing her…
It’s listening to acid rain.
Rolli’s latest collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and shortlisted for the High Plains Book Award.