Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm still wanting my face on your cheek.

When I think about my childhood a few things come to mind; cream dried beef on toast, waking up cold, the big bathroom on Main street, and walking to school every morning. There were high ceilings and the radiator clanked and spewed black smoke in the winter. Fights echoed through the wallpaper next door and our landlords daughter was once found wandering in the middle of the street, at 2a.m with just a diaper on. The smell of coffee in the morning and my mom always working late. My step-dad brushing my hair and always putting in a bow my Nana had snuck into his back pocket, specifically for me. Our neighbor, Kris, who practically raised my brother's and I with her chubby face and shirts tucked into her high wasted jeans. She had a huge St. Barnard named Charlie, he wore a baby's bib to catch all his slobber. We would play video games when it was cold, and walk to the general store on the corner when it was warm. I once bought my mom cigarettes when I was 9, nobody cared in that neighborhood. The same corner store got robbed and the bread prices went up. Sometimes my brother Ian and I would take a shortcut through the graveyard on our way to school, he'd hide behind the tombstones and whisper "this is where Grandpop Joe sleeps." I would look out my window at the busy street at night and hope to see my mom walking home, but most of the time I'd just catch the neighbors fighting in the streets. My best friend, Ashley, lived with her grandmother at 343 East Main. Her grandmother was very small and had a toilet in the living room. I once choked on a tic-tac in their living room and her grandmother screamed from the couch, with a bottle of wine between her legs, "Just fucking swallow it!" She smelled like mothballs and always baked diabetic cookies. Her kitchen had a very low ceiling. They crushed cans in their mudroom and had a huge garden, this convinced me that they must be rich. Her grandfather was the Mayor of our town, and his power scared me. He was named Oak and had a mean, crinkly face. His heart stopped in the bathtub and Ashley didn't speak for a few days. She told me her grandfather was a ghost. I asked her grandmother if he was buried across the street, with my Grand pop, and I made her cry. Ashley and I would hide in the attic whenever her grandmother cried. She'd become sad and turn the tv up too loud. We'd run up the cracking steps, coming to a curl at the foyer where we'd open up the attic door. We'd both scream "HONEY, I'M HOME!" There was a bed (reminded me of the bed from Bed knobs and Broomsticks,) and a few boxes as well as an old television set. The boxes had all her grandmother's old clothes, beautiful feathered hats and antique gowns. We used to pretend this was our apartment. I once kissed a framed picture of her half brother. Ashley told her brother (he was about 20 at the time, me being 10 or 11,) and her brother blushed, kissed my cheek and whispered "you're going to be a stunner when you're older." He was my first *kiss* and we found out years later that he was a heroin addict. He's buried across the street, with Ashley's grandfather. 334 East Main Street.

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