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Columbus, OH, 43206
United States

Beth Grace is an author and artist, living and creating in Columbus, Ohio.

Corded Telephone

           My crazy Aunt Janet has ruined my bedroom.

           It’s the first I’ve seen of my room since she came. I can be a bit of a neat-freak; Dad and Mom say no 14 year old girl should be so organized, not that they complain, they just think I’m weird. You can imagine my horror at finding my immaculate white comforter tossed on the floor, the sheets ripped back and crumpled and, worst of all, Aunt Janet’s triple D bra dangling from one of the four posters of the bed.

           Like I said, she ruined it.

           My parents better pay to have it cleaned, deep-cleaned, when my aunt leaves.

           I push back my long blond hair and step into the nightmare.

            Aunt Janet is my mom’s sister, and she’s been having problems lately. We found out she would be coming to stay with us last week.

            “She deserves the best bed in the house, Cassie,” said my dad.

            “So let her have yours,” I said.

            “She’ll use your room. She’s been going through a bit of a rough patch.”

            “So? Why doesn’t she stay at a hotel or something?”

            “Because she’s family,” said Dad. And that was that.

            She showed up on Friday, yesterday, and I was shifted to the couch in the living room. It’s so worn down that you can feel the wooden supports underneath when you lay down on it. Not comfy.

            When she arrived yesterday, her light brown hair was in wild curls, and she switched her weight from foot to foot as she stood on the porch. At dinner, I learned that Aunt Janet had a habit of staring at you just a little too long and clenching her left hand into a fist and letting it go over and over again.

            I think the “rough patch” Janet had been having had something to do with the fact that she’s insane. When she first went in the basement, she seriously freaked out. She started screaming that we were conspiring against her because she had seen the same old corded phone at a friend’s house. They must only communicate with each other, or something. Why she thinks she’s interesting enough to be spied on is beyond me, but the whole thing is beyond me at this point. I hoped that she would find something horribly wrong with my room and demand to stay somewhere else, but she was immediately right at home. She walked right in, flopped down on my bed, kicked her black boots into a corner of my room (scuffing my lavender-painted walls in the process) and sighed contentedly.

            It seems like that was so much longer ago than yesterday.

            Now, I kick the toe of her worn black boot out of my way. The floor is barely visible underneath sheets of paper and clothes. The walls have been covered over with sports posters. I didn’t think she even liked sports. A basketball player stares aggressively at me as I pick my way across the floor to my closet. Aunt Janet had rearranged it too, and the things that hadn’t been sorted out by color lay in a heap on the floor. The shirt I wanted to wear to my friend’s house is nowhere to be found. I settle on a light pink sweater.

            I walk over to my nightstand, where my floor length mirror should have been. I say should because there is nothing there now but a poster of an orange and black baseball team, looking innocently back at me like they know nothing about what happened to my mirror. My dresser has been entirely covered in bottles of medicine. Loose pills are scattered around the orange and white bottles, some of them round and white, some of them long and purple.

            Mom told me before I came in that I would have about a half hour, because she had taken Janet shopping somewhere. I pick up a prescription bottle. but the name of the medicine means nothing to me. There are some anti-depressants and sleeping pills–ones I’ve seen commercials for–and some cholesterol medicine like Dad takes. There are a shocking number of bottles of cough medicine. Just as I reached for another bottle, the front door burst open. I jumped, dropping the bottle, and little yellow discs spun off in a million directions. I ran out of the bedroom, afraid to be caught in my own room.

           Dad held Aunt Janet by the elbow. She was yowling in an animalistic way, like some kind of prey being slowly killed by a bigger, stronger beast. She twisted and shook, trying to throw Dad off, but he held tight.

            “Why can’t I see her?” Janet cried, “You’re so mean to me!”

            “Come on into the living room, Janet,” said Dad. “Let’s sit down and calm down.”

“I want to see Jackie! Let me go!” she screamed, “I’ll call the police; I know what you’ve been up to! You can’t silence me!”

            I could just see my mom through the open door, standing halfway up the walkway to the house. A hand covered her mouth, and streaks of tears mixed with mascara ran down her face.

            “I’m right here,” Mom said, and I could tell by the way that she said it that it wasn’t the first time she’d spoken those exact words. “I’m right here.”


Copyright 2017 Beth Grace