Francine Witte

I am only 10, and when I wake up at night, I get scared. Not of the half dreams gauzy in my head, but of my parents in the living room.

Tonight, like always, they argue. This time, about my mother's hair, cut poodly and too short. My father slams the piano bench. "I want a sexy wife" he snarls.

Outside, the world is woozy after the fifties. Dreams of space travel and brotherhood. When I sleep, I have visions of picnics, afternoons at the beach.

I peek at my parents from my bedroom. My father paces the floor like he is practicing how he will leave us when the season goes cold.

My mother sits by the window. "I told you" she says "everyone wears it like this."

In the early summer air, Marilyn Monroe's death, the Cuban Missile Crisis still secret on the world's pink tongue.

My father says he is tired and heads off to bed.

My mother sits there, staring at the moon.

First published: May 2005
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