Boarders, Volume 3

She just got home, and I’m on alert, wondering when the fireworks are going to begin. No, it’s not July 4th, and no, the kids won’t be excited to watch, but they’re coming nonetheless. They always come.

At first it’s a low simmer, like a pot just starting to warm up on the stove. Then it begins to roil. The shaking of the head, the rolling back of the shoulders, like bracing for a storm. And I do everything I can every single time to try and anticipate what it’s going to be, when it’s going to hit, and how best to adjust myself to absorb the blow I know is coming. None of it matters.

You see, we’re boarders here, and at a moment’s notice the bookshelf I got used to seeing one place can be in another, my clothes can tiptoe their way into another closet, and what was okay for where to place my footwear yesterday isn’t okay today. Because things shift here, and I feel like I will never know the code.

Did I close the door? Is it shut hard enough? Did I use the plate I wasn’t supposed to use? Is it okay to leave this light on if I’m returning to the room in a few moments? And the laundry situation I don’t think I’ll ever know. I’m almost ready to just load up a few piles of clothing and visit the village laundromat three minutes’ time away. I think I’d rather do that than ask if the washing machine is free for me to use.

It’s not her fault either. I mean, it’s her house, and she’s graciously let us stay here, but the fallout from it is what’s downright depressing. It’s what has come after the invitation, after the move. Now that we’re here it’s about control — making sure every little thing is the way she wants it. Because it’s her home, and we must never forget it. Because she likes things a certain way and we must adapt or be consumed under the weight of the change.

I’m learning to adapt. I swear I am. In bits and pieces.

Sam

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