My father and I sit in the sun outside the hospital for the last time, and he feels the aliveness of the world bear down on him. He smiles. I hold his hand. When I am eight I want never to leave the boardwalk, the cotton candy, the drawing sensation of the Tilt-a-whirl ride I will later know is sex. One time I hold in my pee too long, and for a moment my father looks confused and almost laughs before saying, “Just go.” I am under the moon and stars on a dark stretch of boardwalk, and warm pee is sliding down my legs. My father says, “Run,” and we run as I am still peeing, and this is my father’s love, not to care what other people think. My sister is beside me with a devil face. When our parents are dead she rests her arm on a pillow as a needle slides in. I say, “You look better than anyone else in cancerland.” She says, “I would have had babies until I got a girl.” She means her hand in the hand of our mother, their heads thrown back in the same laugh. She says, “I love you,” and I am reminded of a man I met who was older than me, and a little famous, and did not really know me and said, “I would like to have a relationship with you if I were sticking around.” In the mirror, my mother looks back and says, “You should see this new pot I got. Now the meat balls can swim around without touching.”
Laurie Stone is author most recently of My Life as an Animal, Stories. She was a longtime writer for the Village Voice, theater critic for The Nation, and critic-at-large on Fresh Air. She won the Nona Balakian prize in excellence in criticism from the National Book Critics Circle and has published numerous stories in such publications as Fence, Open City, Anderbo, The Collagist, New Letters, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, and Creative Nonfiction. In 2005, she participated in “Novel: An Installation,” writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in the Flux Factory’s gallery space. She has frequently collaborated with composer Gordon Beeferman in text/music works. The world premier of their piece “You, the Weather, a Wolf” was presented in the 2016 season of the St. Urbans concerts. She is at work on The Love of Strangers, a collage of hybrid narratives. Her website is: lauriestonewriter.com.