A car the size of a house rams our house that’s the size of a house. Thunder from a 1986 Thunderbird shakes me out of my canopy bed to the window to the street. It’s the moment I know my mother is a liar, a big one. She lays there lazy for too long or maybe not long enough, in her satin-sheeted bed and satin-matching lingerie with a man who isn’t her husband or my father. Her lipstick is smeared and our house is too, a brick mouth opened up on one side. When the red lights encircle our house with the car-shaped hole in it, Mama staggers out wearing this not-father-man as a blanket. It’s not enough to hide him or her. The neighborhood sees extra glimpses that should have been kept secret — breast tops, upper thigh thunder, rumpled bedroom hair. My brother and sister and I all stand in the cul-de-sac all in our night clothes, clothed by midnight, staring at the full moon-shaped hole that has appeared in our house galaxy, stars guiding insurance adjusters and curious neighbors who watch papers float out, folded blowing into the sky. My mother and father’s signatures land in front of our house when the papers settle. We argue over who gets what name or what parent but it’s late and we have school and cold feet so everyone goes back to sleep, except me. I follow the policemen until they find my father a sidewalk away drunk on moon and moonshine next to the battering ram car that we used to take together to the beach and back. The muscle car isn’t parked next to oceanside muscle men anymore, just idling on the curb by a curbed man sobbing into his I went to Virginia Beach and all I got was this t-shirt t-shirt. There are hangers full of my father piled in the back seat next to fast food robe wrappers and receipt pillows and balled-up Kleenex and lawyer lists of divisions of property and parents. I stand by him in bare feet and bare anger, pat his bent shoulders and ask if he needs directions home.
The story behind the story:
In the wee summer hours, there was a loud bang and sirens and flashing lights. When I took my daughter to school in the morning, the corner house had a gaping hole in its side. A car was upended in the ditch next to the house and what looked like legal papers were wind-held against trees. Kids waiting for the bus stood next to the car and the house with holes in the brick like they were broken monuments. The neighborhood gossip chain soon shared details: a drunken, angry man who left his family in the night, drove over the curb into the house and then tried to run away. They eventually fixed the house with new bricks, but it never quite matched and the family moved away. We still comment on the two-tone bricks and wonder where they are now. It wasn’t the first time a driver had driven into the side of a house — earlier the same year, another man took out two cars and an air conditioning unit. I needed the full story and wasn’t getting it, so I took all of that and added some defining-C into the NF of it all — into Divorced.
Amy Cipolla Barnes is the author of three short fiction collections: AMBROTYPES published by word west, Mother Figures published by ELJ, Editions and CHILD CRAFT, forthcoming from Belle Point Press. Her words have appeared in a wide range of publications including The Citron Review, Complete Sentence,The Bureau Dispatch, Nurture Lit, X-R-A-Y Lit, McSweeney’s, SmokeLong Quarterly, Southern Living and many others. She’s a Fractured Lit Associate Editor, Gone Lawn co-editor, Ruby Lit assistant editor and reads/judges for The MacGuffin and Narratively.
“Divorced” was first published in Xray Lit.
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