I closed the door because I was loud and my father was sleeping. My mother was in the kitchen or in the dining room putting food into what I know now was a china cabinet. Then, I thought everyone had a pantry where the grits cowered on a shelf behind closed doors while above the grey roses of my parents’ china sat behind glass that we were to never touch. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten off of the rosed dishes. That is not what cut flowers are for.
We were supposed to go out, my mother and I. Or I was supposed to do homework. Or she was on the phone with my grandma, the spiraled cord stretching across the kitchen from the wall near the hallway to her body at the sink. She was not doing dishes; I was girl and it was my job.
My brothers were not home. Or her youngest son was not home and her oldest son was in his room doing what 16 year old boys in 24 year old bodies do: masturbate? Plan their secret celebration of turning 17 in five days? Hate their families (less then than he would in a week or a month)?
I don’t know why, but I always think of video games when I think of that day. I don’t know if I was playing one. Or heard my brother playing one. Or thought my brother who was not home was somewhere playing one. But I think of Mario: his body ravaged by flame or a canon or a Venus flytrap. I think of how he came back. We never celebrated Easter; we were not those kinds of Christians. But we believed in a Jesus who had a 1up up the sleeve of his humble robe.
I don’t know why we didn’t go out. Or why I was loud that day. I, the reader. I, the leave me alone in every room. But I did. It snowed and we stayed in and I closed his door. I remember that. Like I remember that sartorius is a long thin muscle that covers the femoral artery. It has been years since I’ve needed to know that, but it won’t leave.
I also know that if you stab a person in the femoral artery, they’ll bleed out in minutes unless pressure or a tourniquet is applied. I’ve never needed to know that but there it is. My mother knows CPR. In theory. There is a great chasm between certification and application. Sometimes when I can’t sleep because I am imagining my family suddenly dead on the way home from the grocery store, I think about CPR. The half-body of the dummy I was trained on and I wonder if it was worth saving, could I do it? If I loved it. If I found it half-dead and wearing my ring.
My mother forgets everything. Go ahead, ask her where her keys are. Ask me what I had for breakfast. When I learned CPR, the mnemonic was ABC: airways, breathing, compression. There is an order to this. Priorities.
After, when she was in the ambulance or at the hospital. I called my grandmother. Or my mother called her, but that seems less likely. I think I said come get me.
My grandfather was outside in his car and I was halfway to it when I thought I should bring my father’s address book. I know my grandfather brought me to his house, but I don’t know how we got there - if we took the roads we always took or if this was an occasion special enough to merit a shortcut.
I had the phone in my hand when I remembered I was a child. So I didn’t call anyone. I gave the book to my grandmother. Or put it in my bag. Or I fell asleep with it in my hand on the pullout couch that I did not care enough to pull out. Or I still have it in a box somewhere.
I’m not sure I remember the exact moment when someone told me he was dead. But I remember crying into the large full frame of my grandmother. And then sleeping. Someone brought home, I imagine. By then, we were a smaller family.
And none of this is what I remember most: the snow, falling. I on the couch staring out the window waiting for my brother to come home. I called after him. Twice perhaps. To friends. To the parents of friends. I wonder, now, what they remember of that night. Snow? My voice? My daughter tells me about her day all the time. Her voice is small and then unexpectedly loud. Every story is really only sentences standing next to each other by chance - strangers on an overbooked flight. She remembers everything at once: the other day, she says.