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Grade
10

your mother is tired

her thin, graying hair is wrapped messily, hastily, carelessly around a pen

she has wrinkled, red-rimmed eyes, a drooping mouth, a narrow nose, a subtle chin

she’s bent over, exposing the knobs of her spine, attempting to hide her silent tears

now when she walks through the grocery store she avoids the cereal section

now she only makes dinner for four instead of five

now she falls into a fitful sleep after an hour of breathing exercises and meditation, never once sleeping through the whole night, thoughts of you dancing in her head

 

your father is angry

he’s grown a beard, scruff, shaggy, uneven, in order to conceal his deep frown lines

he has narrow, scrunched eyes, a tight-lipped mouth, a protruding nose, a strong chin

he’s standing upright, back straight, arms crossed across his chest, devoid of any tears

now when he drives to work there’s no one playing with the music in his passenger seat

now he doesn’t help anyone with math homework after he gets home

now he goes to sleep usually before the sun has finished its journey to the ground, he can’t bear to stay awake, he doesn’t want to spend time thinking about how you’re gone

 

your sister is relieved

her hair is perfectly straightened, brushed, combed, into a ponytail that hangs down her back

she has round, eyeliner-rimmed eyes, a pouty mouth, a thin nose, a smooth chin

she’s hunched over her phone, replying to sympathy texts from friends, her only tears emojis

now when she’s at school no one can embarrass her in the crowded hallways

now she doesn’t fight with anyone about who gets the best spot on the couch

now she gets her own room with no one yelling at her to go to sleep, she can wake up whenever she wants, but if only she knew how much she would later regret her feelings

 

your brother is devastated

his hair, greasy, curly, messy, hasn’t been washed in five days

he has small, heavily-lidded eyes, a gapped-tooth mouth, a crooked nose, a dainty chin

he’s curled into his mother, tightly gripping the bottom of her dress, tears soaking the fabric

now when he rides the bus in the afternoon he’s alone in his seat

now he watches tv shows without anyone cracking jokes next to him

now he sleeps with your old teddy-bear nestled in his arms, the soft material providing a pillow for his sad face, the stuffed animal his only reminder of you

 

your dog is confused

his fur is too long, too dirty, too thick and coarse

he has glassy, darting eyes, a saliva-filled mouth, a button nose, a broad chin

he’s straining against his leash, desperate to get away, to find his owner

now when he goes for a walk his walker is careless and abrupt

now he can’t play fetch with anyone

now he curls into his dog bed without you to give him a before-bed treat, he wonders where you went, he howls, barks, howls your name into the silent night

 

State
VA
Zip Code
22102