By Shilo Morlang
She’s yelling at me again, for leaving dishes in the sink. But that isn’t what this is about. She’s angry. She says she’s too tired to clean up after she comes home from work, the two jobs that pay for my “differently-abled” education. She thinks it gives her the upper hand. It doesn’t. Just because I’m mute doesn’t mean I’m deaf. I know what’s really bothering her.
I hate signing my frustrations. She doesn’t catch half of them.
Slamming cupboards, putting dishes away, rubbing one bare foot on top of the other, that goofy ass senior picture of me on the fridge behind her, she’s always too busy. I’ll just sit here, nice and quiet, making fists to make sure no one gets hurt. Wouldn’t want to put it in her face. Wouldn’t want her to see she’s still blaming me for her boyfriend. For not pulling him out of the lake. But, Jesus—Let it go! I was nine years old. How the hell was I supposed to pull him out? His fault anyway, driving us out to the middle of nowhere, ice fishing with nobody else in sight. Quiet’s a good thing, he said. Three miles.
That’s what they told me. Three miles I ran.
And she still blames me. I know. It was my fault. Twenty feet away taking a piss. I heard the crack. He did too. “Stand still!” is what he yelled. The last. I stepped back.
He went in. The icehouse, the truck, everything. Vanished. Everything was so flat and so cold and so white. My chest burned and my fingers tingled and I knew I could believe in forever. There was the blaze orange snow fence, the trees that groaned, the old icehouse, blue tarp stapled over the side—I pushed through.
I grabbed him and started pulling, trying to drag him out of that goddamned icehouse and into that—I pointed in the direction. I tried.
But I couldn’t see. Everything was too flat, too cold, too white. Gone forever.
Snowblind. That’s what they call it.
I tell Mom I don’t know. I’ll eat at the cafeteria in college, I say. I’ll buy paper plates. She stands at the sink, making broad sweeping gestures, uses her hands to speak. To have the choice.
If she’d just say it, say she can’t forgive me, it’d be better than this…pretending- planning my graduation party, buying towels for a dorm room 400 miles and five months away. It’s absurd. We both know it takes about four seconds to fall through the cracks.
But I won’t put it in her face. Not today. It’s only five months. I can wait that long. I can wait. I can keep sitting here, nice and quiet, squeezing my hands into fists, making sure no one else ever gets hurt. I can do that. That much I can do.