Meg

Piano Snow Globe

I ran them over.  I ran them over real good.  And when I was finished, I ran them over again.  I wanted to be good and sure I finished them off.  Xan thought it was enough.  He said that if I didn’t stop soon we would be late on the delivery, and that there wouldn’t be anything left to deliver.  If we were late the customer didn’t have to pay.   I was not going to let John get anything for free.  Sure, he would get his special occasion cakes, just not in the shape that he was expecting.

***

My older sister Meg never had a job in her life.  She was too busy with her perfect boyfriend, John, and mathletes.  My sister was the smart one, I was the musical one.  When I got the same teachers for math, and they found out that I was her sister they would always say, “Your sister was great with numbers, Harriet, I have high expectations for you.”  I never met them.  They don’t say that anymore.  No one wants me to be like her.

This year I decided to quit the marching band and get a job instead.  I was tired of everyone treating me like I was a delicate piece of glass, like I didn’t even exist anymore, or like they were waiting for something to happen.  I’m not her.  Mini band camp really sucked and I didn’t want to be at home and listen to Mom and Dad fighting about stupid things, and then acting like nothing happened.  They don’t talk to me anymore.  I just wanted some things to be normal again.

My sister loved to bake, and she was really good at it.  She would bake muffins and breads all the time.  The kitchen always smelled so good.  And every Christmas we would bake dozens of reindeer, Santa, bell, sleigh, and Jesus cookies, Christmas bark, and Christmas themed brownies.  We always had to give a lot away because none of us could ever eat it all.  Our cousin Mike would take the goods back to college with him and share with his fraternity, and about a month later we would get a thank you card from his house, that made us feel so special.  The last time she baked anything was when she was teaching me to make pear bread. I burnt two loaves.

I applied at some bakeries and local catering businesses in Hatboro, Warminster, Warrington, and Philly.  Lochel’s Bakery in Hatboro was the only one hiring high school students.  They needed someone to drive the delivery van in the afternoons and weekends.  I took it. I hate baked goods.

Everyday after school I swapped one uniform for another: my grey skort for black pants, and my green golf tee, complete with my high school crest, for a pink t-shirt with the bakeries name on it.  By the time I got home I smelled like baked goods, mainly cookies—everyone always orders cookies.  It’s like cookies fit any kind of occasion, it doesn’t matter, there’s a cookie for everything.  I don’t eat anything that could possibly come out of a bakery anymore, I’m so sick of it.  It’s like my skin eats the scents in the van, so I’m always on full.  I barely eat anymore.

My coworkers always tease me because I never try to sneak a bite of anything.  They think I’m not normal, or from like some other planet, because I don’t want to eat what I see everyday.  Xan, who I always get stuck driving the van with on the weekends, is always eating what we deliver.  I’m pretty sure Xan is around my age, because he’s hungry all the time.  He has to buy some goods before we head out so that he doesn’t eat the customers food, which he has done a couple of times.

He never asks me about my personal life, which is really cool.  And he never pokes around at things. If he wants to talk, he talks, and I listen or ignore him.  Though I mostly ignore him and just nod my head every once in a while like I’m following.  Sometimes I kind of want to laugh at him but I really don’t want to encourage him, but I never feel like laughing long, so it’s not like it matters. I don’t know how he doesn’t get sick from eating all of that sugary junk.  I mean, there is a ton of sugar in all of that.

The math team hasn’t done real well since my sister graduated five years ago.  I think that it serves them right, they doted on her and forgot that anyone else really existed.  Of course her picture has been removed from the school trophy wall, it doesn’t matter how smart she was, they don’t want others taking after her.  I guess I wouldn’t either.  My friends parents think that my sister rubbed off on me, like that could really happen, I lived with her for eighteen, I mean seventeen years, and no rubbing off has occurred.  My best friend’s parents won’t allow her to go to my house, and I’m not permitted in theirs, because clearly I’m some kind of juvenile delinquent that is going to rub off on everyone I meet. Sometimes adults can just be so dumb.  Dumb like you want to clobber them over the head with a big stick like a caveman.  But you never can. Because it’s just not something society accepts, maybe one day it will.

There were so many people at my sister’s graduation, well family members I mean.  It was a great ceremony, I screamed so loud for her after they were done calling names.  I told everyone, “That’s my sister, that’s my sister down there.  That’s my sister,” I was so proud.  Afterwards we had a huge party, fully catered, by a friend, with music.  It was so much fun.  We did the Alley Cat and the Electric Slide, Dad got drunk off of Manhattans with five other fathers.  God, it took so long to get him in the house after everyone left, he just wanted to sleep outside.  He said that it was a nice night, well that’s what we think he said, he kind of slurred it.  I stayed up late with my sister counting how much money everyone gave her for graduating; it was so much that I wanted to graduate the next day so I could be rich too.  She told me that I had to wait my turn, otherwise I wouldn’t get nearly as much money, and that if I played my cards right, that when I graduated I would probably get more money then her.  That made me really happy.

Most of that money went to her school books and other stuff for college.  But, she bought me a present too; a snow globe with a baby grand inside.  She told me that one day I would have one of my own, and then I would be famous.  But I wasn’t allowed to forget her because she bought me my first one.  She gave it to me the day she left for college.  It’s on my dresser behind my jewelry box.  Next semester I’ll graduate, but it won’t be the same, no one will be there for me.  At least no one that really counts.

***

I usually get to work five minutes late, and Corey, my boss, always scolds me.   You would think that she would know after working for her for two months that I’m just not on time.  I don’t think I’ve ever been on time for anything in my life.  My sister was the sibling that was always on time, she was actually early for everything.  She hated me so much because I just didn’t care how late we were as long as we got where we were going before everything ended.  One time she actually left without me for our cousins graduation party.  I was so pissed, I had to walk two miles to get to his house.  I did get her in trouble later, Mom and Dad were angry that she left me by myself, because a twelve year old shouldn’t be walking alone.

I think that Corey scolds me because she feels like she has to.  She says my name, Harriet, with such disappointment in her voice.   I think she’s hoping to motivate me a bit with this tactic but it’s not.  I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, because she hasn’t threatened to fire me yet.  Who knows, if she did maybe I’d be on time, but then again probably not.  I’m not Ms. Punctual.

Whenever she tells me I’m late she always looks at the clock, like it’s going to tell her something different.  I think that she’s waiting for the day that I’m on time.  Corey is the kind of baker that always has flour on her cheek, and some kind of icing or other kind of ingredient in her dark hair.   I don’t know how she always wears ingredients, when I helped out in the kitchen I never ended up wearing anything food wise.  Maybe it’s a baker thing.  My sister never seemed to wear any food, so then again, maybe not.  Maybe it’s a Corey thing.

I know that when she scolds me I should be embarrassed and walk quicker to the back room to change and put my stuff away, but I don’t.  Being late is part of who I am.  She’s bound to accept it one day.   I hate going to the back room because it’s a shocking yellow that always hurts your eyes.  It’s just too bright for inside.  I think that the back room should be painted a blue, because blue is supposed to be calming and relaxing.  But I guess that Corey really doesn’t want us relaxing in the back.  Maybe the color was on purpose.

To contrast with the yellow walls we all have black lockers.  I know it’s strange.  I think that lockers should always be that blue/grey color that you always see everywhere, not black.   I wonder if Corey’s favorite house in Harry Potter was Hufflepuff, which would totally explain the color choice.  Or she could like bumble bees.  Whatever her reasoning, I don’t like it. I don’t think my coworkers like it either.

Someone left a nice bright blue sticky note on my locker, probably Xan, he’s always doing that sort of thing: “Loaded the van before I left.  You owe me kid.  Xan.” I was really grateful that he loaded the van so I wouldn’t be doing that myself, but every time I ‘owe him’ I always have to wash his blue pickup truck that attracts dirt and all other disgusting things that fly and get squished while driving. I really hate owing him, but at least it’s something different to do.  But he stands there and critiques my washing abilities and tells me all kinds of jokes that he learned or read in the paper.  I don’t actually mind washing his car, but I wish that he would just let me be when I do.

The delivery list was short, usually is on Thursday’s, the weekends always the busiest.  The short list would bring me home a little after dinner, plenty of time to do homework.  The van already reeked of sweets, and I just wanted to chuck them all out and drive around, maybe even run some over for something different to do.   Xan left the radio on the rock station, again.  I hate rock, well I hate all music, I don’t listen to it anymore.  The first delivery is in Hatboro, Elm Street.  My sister had a friend that lived on Elm, I think she was obsessed with the Backstreet Boys.

Most people don’t know that my sister could sing.   She was really good, just too shy to sing in public.  I always begged her too, I told her she shouldn’t hide her talent, but she never shared it.   I would play the piano and she would sing.  She would sing anything.  I loved to hear her sing jazz; that was her calling.  Sometimes our parents would come in the house quietly and catch a little of her singing.  But they always made the mistake of clapping afterwards.  She would get angry and go to her room.  No one would ever know now.  A month after she started dating John her favorite song became At Last.  I have some recordings of us, but not many or the ones I want.  Well, that’s really not true, I burned a few of them before the funeral.  It’s not like I need those memories.  She didn’t care enough, why should I?

***

It seems like I pass the cemetery at least three times during my delivery route, no matter what streets I take.  I haven’t been in there since before her funeral; when we buried Pop-Pop. Two blocks down from the cemetery is a small coffee shop that one of my band friends took me to last year.  They serve huge banana nut muffins and chocolate chocolate chip muffins for fifty cents each.  And their coffee cups are like soup bowls.  I was wired all night after I had a cup, I have a low tolerance for caffeine, but it never seemed to affect my sister.  She could drink ten coups of coffee and have no problem sleeping.  She did that twice, during two of her biggest mathlete competitions.   She told everyone that she just had to stay awake and study, because she clearly didn’t know enough already.  She would get me special permission to ride the bus with the team and I would quiz everyone.  I like to think that it’s partially because of me that they always did so well.   Yesterday when I stopped in for coffee they accidentally gave me pumpkin spice tea instead, I didn’t complain, it was really good.  I might get another one.

The lamp is on outside when I get home, but it isn’t really that dark yet.  I can hear Mom and Dad fighting from outside.  I wish they wouldn’t fight so much.  I hate that they fight so much, and so loud that everyone can hear.

“Hey, I’m home,” I yell once inside and in the kitchen.  Looks like spaghetti again, I swear we have it at least four times a week.

“. . . you shouldn’t have gotten a new car.  There was plenty of life left in the old one,” Mom yelled.

Dad spat back, “It was time for a change. . .”

“Oh, a change?  A change?  You needed a change.  Well, excuse me.  Have you ever thought that I might need a change?  No, you don’t. . .”

“I don’t what Marian?  Understand? No, that’s right.  All you ever think about is you.  It’s always you!”

Change, that’s all they talk about.  Change this, and change that, the funny thing is that no one ever asks me.  “I’m eating dinner now,” I yell up the stairs.   Maybe they’ll hear me this time.  I’m tired of eating alone.  Dinner used to be a family time, no one ate until everyone was home and we’d talk about our day, it was fun.  We still ate together even when my sister went to college, we’d put her on speaker phone and let her talk, then once we hung up we’d eat.  I loved hearing about her day, it made me feel like she wasn’t that far away, like I was still a part of her life.  Lately, no one asks me anything, and we all eat at different times.  I hate living here.  As soon as high school is over I’m getting my own place.  My sister and I were going to get an apartment together after college.  It was going to be real cool, like a loft or something.

When they don’t answer I just wander back to the stove.  The pasta is in a huge clump, Mom probably started it before Dad got home then forgot all about it.  Whatever.  I know there’s some pickles in the fridge, it’s not like I’m really hungry anyway.

Sometimes I nuke a marshmallow while I eat dinner, just to watch it expand before it explodes. If we don’t have any marshmallows I’ll put some fluff in a bowl and watch it become a white runny river bubbling like lava.  When we don’t have either I set paper towels on fire and watch them burn in the sink.  Most of the time I think that my parents forget that I’m still here.  I wish they would ask me about my day.

The tomato sauce is boiling over.  I wonder how bad the burn would be if it fell over your head? Or if you would burn at all and it would just feel like you were in a hot tub.  I really don’t want to turn down the heat. They can clean up the mess.

As is usual when my parents fight, they come down the stairs when I’m headed to my room.

“Hungry sweetheart?” Mom asks, not really looking at me.

“No.  I already ate. Thanks.” I just push by them.

“Did you have enough?” Dad asks my back.

“Yeah, fine,” I say not looking back.  They won’t ask me again.  I wish they would, I wish they would say that we were going to eat together again, but I know that’s not going to happen anytime soon, if it ever will.  They don’t bug me about anything.  Not anymore.  They think if they push too hard I’ll off myself just like my sister did.  They don’t know it but I won’t, I’m too chicken.  What if I messed up?  I want them to push.

My sister’s door is cracked open.  Mom was probably in there.  The only light in the hall is coming from it.  I want to open it, but I don’t want her to yell at me for going in there without asking her.  God, my sister could be such a pain sometimes.  She would always yell that she needed her space, but I think she just didn’t want me walking in on her and John having sex.  They were always together.  Too much I think.  He took my sister away from me even before she did it herself.  John doesn’t ever stop by.

When my sister left for college I would sleep in her room sometimes just so it didn’t feel like she was so far away.  I would hug her stuffed animals, and the snow globe she gave me,  and cry for a bit, eventually I would fall asleep.  I think that Mom heard me, because after her first semester away she came back a lot to hang out with me.  I don’t think that she ever knew that I slept in her room, but she probably knew that I was in there because her things weren’t exactly where they were when she left.  If she did know, she never said anything to me.

Mom doesn’t want to pack away my sisters room, neither does Dad.  I think that we should.  I think that we should pack it all up and then throw it away.  I would tell them that, if they ever asked my opinion.

Mom and Dad are fighting downstairs about my sisters clothes.  Mom wants me to have them.  Dad wants to give them away.  I agree with Dad, but they probably won’t ask me for a couple of months, once they’ve had plenty of time to fight about it.  I wish they wouldn’t fight.  I wish they’d get along better like they did before. . .

***

Every Saturday morning I wake up at seven to get to the bakery by eight thirty.  My showers are always cold because no one else has gotten up before me to make the water tank warm.  The good thing about my job is that I don’t have to worry about my hair; it has to be pulled back into a ponytail.  At least it makes things easy in the morning.

My sister had gorgeous strawberry blond hair, I got stuck with boring old light brown.  She always had it cut just above her shoulders.  Neither of us had curly hair, straight all the way.  I used to love it when she brushed my hair and styled it.  Most of the time she just French braided it, and in the morning I had the curly hair that I always wished I had.  She never let me touch her hair though, nope no one could ever touch her precious hair.  Even when she would have trouble styling it for dances or parties she still wouldn’t let me touch it.  But she would always do mine; every dance I went to, my first and only date, Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation, and all the weddings we went to.  When she went off to college she showed me how to do my hair the way she always did, she would always teach me something new every time she came home.  Now I just pull it back for work or let it just hang and push it behind my ears.

I hear my Dad moving upstairs as I leave.  If it was eight months earlier he would have woken up earlier than me and had chocolate chip pancakes ready for me before I left.  But then again I wouldn’t have had a job to get to, so it would have been quality time with my Dad; and he’d read the funnies each with their own set of voices. He doesn’t cook breakfast on the weekends anymore, or read the funnies to me.  He barely even looks at me.  I think he thinks he lost the wrong daughter.

It’s really a nice day; the sun shining, clear blue sky, and I’m sure that somewhere there are birds making noises, but I can’t hear them in my car.  I kind of wish it was grey out, with wind.  I like the wind, it makes me feel alive.  When it’s grey there is no need to wear sunglasses, keep the windows down, keep fake smiles pasted on your face, or greet people you see on the street or sidewalks. People usually wave to me, but I think they think I’m someone else.  Sometimes I’ll wave, especially if it’s a little old couple with grey hair.  Old people always remind me of my grandparents.  I can’t help but be nice to them.

I need to get gas before I drive home, I’m almost on empty.  They are working on the road outside of Yum Yum’s Donuts.  Otherwise no one else is really out.  When I was younger Mom and Dad would always take me and my sister to get donuts after Mass on Sunday morning.  We wouldn’t eat breakfast so that we had tons of room for donuts.  She would always get strawberry filled donuts coated with sugar while I stuck to the classics like chocolate rings and glazed.  She used to tell me that I had no sense of adventure.  I never understood what she meant, I still don’t.  I haven’t had a donut since she came home after Easter for a visit.  She never even finished her fist year of Grad school.  I’m going to have to take another way home to avoid the construction mess.

Xan and Tyler are loading the delivery van when I pull in.  Better them than me.  I hate loading, there are always so many more opportunities to get something on you.  Tyler always waves to me, he’s a really nice old man; he’s Corey’s Dad, I think that’s the only reason she lets him help out.  He reminds me of my Pop-Pop, I think they would have gotten along great if he were still here.

“Hey kid,” Tyler greets me.  “Sand man didn’t want to release you this morning huh?” He’s always saying weird things like that. I don’t actually understand half of what he says.

“Um, no.  Just left kind of late.”

“Well, thanks to Tyler here, we were able to pack the van.  Your slack automatically makes you the driver,” Xan says.

“Oh really.  Xan, I always drive,” I say with my hands on my hips. “Was packing the van too much work for you?  Is that all?” Aren’t guys supposed to like driving so much that they hate it when others drive, especially girls? John hated it when my sister would drive.  He would say that it just wasn’t right.

My sister would always be ready for their date, but it was John who was late and everyone waited for.  He would always try to say that he was giving her extra time to get ready; because girls always take a long time to get ready, but not my sister.  Those were the only times that we ever saw John, when he was picking my sister up.

Xan just smiles, shakes his head, and does a quick lift of his dark brows.  He always eggs on an argument but then never participates in it.  Sometimes I wish he would just argue with me.  I really like to argue, I think it’s the one thing that I’m really good at.  And it’s really annoying when he does this and then I have to spend the whole day with him doing deliveries.  On the weekends Xan always comes along because there are so many to do.

I shake my head.  “Fine. Whatever.  I don’t care.” I get into the driver’s seat and make all of the necessary adjustments, buckle up, and wait for Xan to get in.  This is going to be a long day, I can feel it.

“Alright shorty, let’s go,” he says as he climbs into the van.  “So, it’s going to be another long day.  Ready for it?”

I don’t answer.  It really doesn’t matter if I’m ready or not, it’s my job and I have to do it.  Besides I really need the money.  “Where to?”

“We are heading to 1624 and 1626 Elm Street.  It’s actually neighbor houses.  Must be having a party or something.  That’ll be easy, won’t it?”

“Yeah. I guess so.”  It will be as long as Xan doesn’t stay to socialize.

“I hope that you haven’t forgotten that you owe me one?”

“No, I haven’t.”  He sees me practically everyday, it’s not really like he would let me forget it.

I don’t get why there are so many little kids up at this hour.  It’s just about nine but there is no reason they should be out, they should be sleeping, it’s Saturday.  Or they should at least be waking their parents for breakfast and a trip to the playground.  Some of them look like they’re dressed for church, others like they’re just out for a walk.  Xan keeps talking, I do my best to ignore him and pay attention to the road.

There’s one old lady who is always out walking every Saturday morning, rain or shine just like the mailman.  I wonder how far she walks?  Isn’t it dangerous for her to be out by herself, I mean if she falls or if anything happens no one is there to help her.  And she always stops at the bank—I don’t think she stays there long, I always drive away before she comes back out.  I guess that she keeps on walking afterwards.  I wonder why she bothers to walk.  Most of the people she knew must be dead by now, she does look like she’s at that age; like death’s on the door step.

The radio goes on.  “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

“Woa, it’s just the radio, chill,” he says with his hands up like I caught him doing something he shouldn’t be.

“How many times do I have to tell you, no music.”

“Everyone likes music. Besides, there’s two of us in the van.”

“That may be but I’m the driver.  I say no music.”

Changing the station he says, “Well, someone has a power trip.”

“No. And you’re a jerk.”

“Well, maybe.  You’re not going to die listening to some music.  Come on, it’s good for the soul.”

“No.”

“Alright, you win,” he says turning off the radio.  He never gives up these music fights so easily. “But I’m driving after we hit Elm,” he says leaning back in the seat with a stupid grin on his face like he just won something, even though he really didn’t.

“No,” I grind my teeth.  What is his problem today?  I don’t get him. “We’re here.  Let’s just get this done.”  I wonder how much trouble I’d be in if I drove away without him.

Xan checked the list. 1624 has a strawberry short cake and three dozen assorted cookies.  Strawberry short cake was my sister’s favorite kind of cake.  Perfect blend of cake and real strawberries, she’d always tell me.  I hate cake.  I would prefer a can of icing to cake any day.

“Hey, Harriet, you coming?”

“Yeah, be right there,” I yell as I grab the boxes.

A cute young couple answers the door.  The woman looks as though she just had a baby.  She still has some awkward pudginess in her belly; I wonder how big the baby was.  Mr. Dad looks like he has a headache and the day has just begun.  But he looks excited.  The couple looks happy together, it’s been a long time since my parents looked like that. Maybe they need to have a baby to be happy again.  Everyone’s always happy when they have babies.

Mr. Dad looks like he wants to talk to me but I don’t want to and don’t have time to.  They paid ahead of time so I don’t have to waste time collecting money.  “Have a nice day,” I say as I hand them their order, then walk back to the van as quickly as possible.  Xan is already there, in the driver’s seat, when I get back.

“What are you doing?” I ask him.

“Driving,” he says with a smile.

“No, I’m the driver, remember?” I’m beginning to panic a bit, I don’t want to listen to music.  I haven’t in a long time.  Music is just one of the things that I gave up.

“Nope, I am.  I told you I wanted to listen to music and you said that the driver decides that sort of thing, so I told you I would drive after the Elm delivery.  Hop in, we have to move.”

My heart begins to pick up a bit.  “I hate you,” I say as I get in the passenger’s seat.

“That may be so.  But I accept that.”

“Whatever.”

Xan put on the Oldies station.  Some Beatle’s song is playing.

“Harriet, Tyler tells me that you play the vibraphone? in your high school marching band.  Therefore, I have determined that you must like music.  What do you like to listen to?”

Used to.  Used to be in the marching band.  Used to play the vibraphone.  Used to like music.  Used to listen to it.  I don’t anymore.  Period. I’m driving after the next delivery,” I say bringing my feet up on the seat.

“Oh.  I didn’t think that music was something you could give up.  I don’t play anything but I can’t get enough of it.  And, I think I’ll be driving.  We’re going to Glenside and you know I know my way around there better.”

I knew he was right, so I didn’t argue.  My sister and I would get so lost whenever we drove into Glenside.  She insisted that there was a small dress store in the area that had really great sale prices.  God, we must have driven around for hours every time we went there, just looking for that stupid store.  We never found it.  She was still looking for it even when she went off to college.  She convinced herself that we were going to get my Junior Prom dress there.  She was so angry when we couldn’t find the store.  I kept telling her that she made the whole thing up, that there was no store.  She would just tell me to shut up and look out the window for it.  It’s a good thing I had to look out the window because I laughed at her every time.  I wonder who was right about the store.

I block out the music as best as I can.  I look out the window and watch the other cars pass us, little kids playing in their driveways, high school boys washing their cars, and an ambulance, lights flashing siren blaring, in the driveway of one house. It feels like I’m in a freezer.

The drive feels like it’s taking forever, but we’re actually making really good time.  We can’t be more than five or ten minutes away from our next stop.

Frank Sinatra’s voice came caroling out of the radio, singing New York, New York..

“God! Can’t we turn off the radio?” I roar reaching for the dial.

“Woah, what’s wrong?” he asks a little freaked.

“Nothing, God, nothing is wrong except that the radio is on,” I yell at him.

“Sure,” he says.  But I already turned it off. “Harriet, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” I shout.  I can feel my cheeks getting sticky wet. “Why does something always have to be wrong?  Why can’t I just not want to listen to music?”

“Calm down.  No music. Okay.”

“What’s wrong with you?  Why won’t you ever fight with me?  Why don’t you ever just yell at me?  Do you think I’m too fragile? What?”

“Hey, hey. Calm down.”

“No. No, don’t tell me to calm down.”  My nose is running.  “God, I wish that everyone would stop treating me like I’m some kind of porcelain doll.  Just yell at me!”

“Why?  I have no reason to yell at you.”

“Yes, yes you do.  I’m a jerk, we both know it. Ahh, just pull over.”  I feel like I’m going to be sick, and the walls of the van are closing in.  I have to get out or I’ll suffocate.  My chest hurts, and it’s getting harder to breathe.

“You have to be crazy.  Not here.  Just hold on, I’ll pull over in the lot up ahead.”

“No, now dammit.” I push the door open and he slams on the breaks.  The van slows just enough for me to jump out without hurting myself.

“Wait.  Harriet wait.  Come back here.  Wait,” Xan calls after me.  But I didn’t care, I just run. I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t care.  I just have to get away.

My tears stop after a few minutes.  The wind is picking up, and I’m pretty sure that the last few car horns were directed to me since I just ran into the street.  Running feels good, like it is something I am supposed to be doing.  The wind is cold, I wish I had a jacket.  I think I left my purse in the van.  It doesn’t matter, I just keep running.

My sister liked to run.  She said it helped her keep in shape, and that she needed all of the help she could get with all of the burritos she ate.  She did CYO track for a few years, but quit because she was tired of being told where she had to run.  All of her track shirts had the number two on them.  That was her lucky number.  She used to tell me that she picked the number two because there were two of us, me and her.  So it had to have magic powers because she always won the races, sometimes only just by a couple of inches, but she won.  That’s all she ever did, run.  She ran so much it killed her.

The stitch in my side is so bad I have to stop.  I don’t want to, but I have to.  I really don’t have any idea where I am.  Well, that’s not entirely true, I do recognize some things but just because we have had so many deliveries in the area.  Up ahead is Holy Seplecure Cemetery.  That’s where my sister is, and everyone else in my family who’s dead.  That’s where I am going.

I didn’t go to her funeral.  I didn’t see the point.  She didn’t care enough about me to stay alive I didn’t see why I should care enough to go to her funeral.  I sat at home burning our tapes and removing her pictures from the house, it didn’t matter who was in the picture with her, they all had to go.  And when everyone came over afterwards I stayed locked in my room.  I didn’t need their sympathy or looks. I never cried.

I know that the cemetery is filled with bodies all rotting at their own pace or already dust, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is here.  When we buried my Pop-Pop it felt full, and not of the living but the dead.  It was like they all came out to mourn with us.  Today it feels like a ghost town.

She was buried really close to Pop-Pop’s, I remember Mom talking about it.  She said something like she wasn’t alone.  Yeah, well, she might not be but I am.  I remember that Mom cried when I told her I wasn’t going and she said I would regret it, but she wasn’t going to push me.  It’s been eight months and I still don’t regret it.

Her gravestone is raised about a foot off the ground.  The only one like that in the whole row.  It figures, she always had to be special and different when she was alive why should that change when she’s dead?

Someone planted yellow flowers over her grave recently, and someone else, or I guess the same person, left a few flower pots with chrysanthemums.  No, no, she doesn’t deserve any flowers.  I get on my knees and start to pull out the flowers; the roots come out easily, like they didn’t even really want to be there in the first place.

It was a nice day like today when we got the news.  The officer said that she killed herself.  He said that her boyfriend John found her when he got back to their apartment.  Pills.  She ate a lot of pills and then just like went to sleep and died.  And John, John never came to tell us anything, he let us just find out from the cops.  He wouldn’t talk to us.  Damn near killed Mom, she didn’t understand why he refused to.  I think the answer’s easy, he didn’t really love her.

The flower pots are next.  They know it.  They don’t belong there anymore than the planted flowers.  I smash the first one against her headstone.  The ceramic shards cut but I can’t feel them.

“I hate you! I hate you,” I yell at the stone and smash another pot.

“You selfish bitch, how could you,” I smash the last one and stand up.

I start to kick her stone. “How could you leave me, how could you?  Why?” I wipe my nose on my shirt. “Why didn’t you tell me something was wrong?  Didn’t you think I cared?  I hate you!” I scream with so much force my voice breaks.

“Did you even think about me?  How could you?  Whose going to take care of me when I leave Mom and Dad?  What happened to the Harriet and Meg show you promised me?  Why?” I think I broke my toe, but I don’t care.  I just switch feet.

“Dammit, no note?  What are you playing at?  You were fine at Easter.  You were fine.  How could you let me find out by a cop?  Why do you hate me?  I hate you, I hate you.  I’m glad you’re dead.  You don’t deserve to live.  You don’t deserve. . .” I can’t finish.  I just start punching her.

“What about me?  What am I supposed to do?  What am I supposed to do?  What am I supposed to do without you?  Whose gonna tell me everything I need to know about college?  Whose gonna pick me up if I’m too drunk to drive?  Whose gonna cheer for me at graduation?  WHO?” I have to move to the grass because my hands hurt so much, and they are covered in blood.  I just pull chunks. I think someone else is here.

“Whose gonna be my maid of honor?  Who can I count on to be there for me no matter what?  Why did you stay with him?  The more you saw John the less you saw me. It’s his fault, I know it.  I know it.  Why didn’t you ask for help? I hate you.” I’m getting dirt.  “You selfish. . . It’s always about you. I hate you Meg, do you hear me?  I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you.  I hate you.”

Someone else’s arms envelop me and I start to punch, but I can’t anymore.  I’m too tired and hurt.  I just collapsed into the body.  It’s Xan.  He just holds me, letting me cry.

***

“How did you find me?” I ask him once I regain control of myself.

“I didn’t.  I just followed you in the van.  Not too hard. But still noteworthy I think.”  I know he was trying to lighten the mood, he always tries to keep things light.

“Thanks.”

“Yeah, you owe me.” I just look at him eyes wide in astonishment.  He can’t really be serious. “Nah, just kidding.  This one’s on me.”

“I thought you would have continued with the deliveries.”

“Well, I was going to, but then I thought that my friend just might need me.  So I thought, ah what the heck, delivery shmivery.”

I can’t help it, I have to smile.  We will get docked for the late deliveries, but I’ll make sure it’s only me.  “I’m sorry.”

“It’s cool.  Don’t worry about it.”

“So, how long were you. . .” I can’t finish the sentence, I know he knows what I mean.

Xan scrunches his mouth.  “I’m pretty sure I caught the whole show.”

“Oh, I um. . .” okay well, that just made everything like ten times more embarrassing. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“And get caught in that pain fest, no thanks.  Besides I just found out that you actually are human.  Up until today I had my suspicions that you might be alien with your one emotion.  Don’t worry, it was actually very enlightening.  And no one will know.”

“Thank you.”

“Come on.  Let’s get out of here.  Cemeteries give me the creeps. And we gotta get your hands cleaned up, we don’t want any infections.  Plus you can’t really deliver anything like that, costumers might think that you bled all over their stuff.”

“’Kay.”

“Listen, we don’t have to have the radio on.”

“No, it can be.”

***

The last delivery that we had was to John’s house.  His family ordered five special occasion cakes.  Xan didn’t seem to mind me wanting to run them over.  He was all for it, actually.  Secretly, I pretended it was John I was running over, and not the cakes.

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