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Cold Cereal and Morning Revelations James Chang It’s Sunday morning and you are back, sitting across from me at the kitchen table. The nanny has prepared a bowl of cereal for each of us, and although I am starving, I don’t eat. It doesn’t seem appropriate. Instead I stare at you. Your tattered clothes. Your hair, streaked with mud. The frozen sweat clinging to your brow. You stare back, but I know you aren’t actually looking at me. Your thoughts are elsewhere, miles away. Like seeds, brief and unburnished, flung onto fresh soil. “What’s been your deal lately? Locking yourself in your room, ignoring me? Why did you run away last night?” I long to ask you these questions. But even when I start through gritted teeth, the words falter before they can reach my lips. My voice breaks. The cereal coagulates. I have never been the bold one. Instead I hug you, pull you in tight. But you are cold and dry and I am thinking that the soil across your face makes you look unfamiliar. Tell me what’s going on. Our mother is still outside arguing with the policemen who found you barefoot last night in a t-shirt and pajamas. I want to match her hysteria. Maybe then you would tell me everything, explain to me how every second in our Georgian-styled house feels like suffocating. How most things feel like suffocating these days. You would press your face against the marble tabletop and tangle your fingers in your hair and talk about how our father leaves for months at a time on overseas business trips and how our mother’s been slowly unraveling after quitting grad school. You would tell me how you can’t stand the fighting, the long stretches of silence or how he sleeps on the couch. You would tell me how you despise the way she wanders from room to room, searching for something to busy herself with. We would talk like we did when we were younger. Nestled in the backyard of those untouched ochre evenings, coarse and rugged and real. But I am not as strong as I used to be, and so I will never know why you ran away last night. Why you launched yourself into the 29

2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  
2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  

Professional literary journal produced at Asnuntuck Community College

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