To All the Liminal By Jen Corrigan

March 10, 2016 Comments Off on To All the Liminal By Jen Corrigan

The doorbell rings.

It’s not for me.

It’s the twitchy kid from down the street, his face blanketed with throbbing pimples and freckles like sparks from a campfire. He’s asking if my little brother can come out and play: ride bikes, hunt for frogs, fight with swords cut from splintered lumber. The kid gives me an eerie feeling, like a bowling ball rolling over and over again inside my stomach when I see him through the streaked window, skulking up the driveway, a brittle scarecrow. I imagine him lighting fires, torturing small animals, throwing rocks at younger kids. One day we’ll read in the paper that he went ‘round the bend and sliced up a bunch of people in his basement, and I can be the one who says, “I knew it all along! I knew it!”

The doorbell rings.

It’s not for me.

It’s the nice elderly neighbor with the fancy yard, come to give us thick, green sleeves of lettuce, blushing tomatoes, and dimpled ears of corn, fit to burst. He and his wife do little more than work in their garden, turning the dirt over in their hands, tearing weeds from the ground and digging out little sticker bushes with rusty trowels. They used to have a dog, a sleek, shiny golden retriever named Molly. I haven’t seen their dog in a long time. I wonder what happened to it.

It’s not for me.

It’s the fat neighbor lady from a block over, dropping in for a cup of bitter coffee because she can’t stand to go home to her bitter marriage. Her mouth never stops moving, up down up down, as she churns out words, her jowls trembling. She talks about her husband, corpselike in his recliner. She talks about her kids and how they never talk to her. (She had to find out about Maddy’s eating disorder from the school guidance counselor, for God’s sake.) She talks about what that Mrs. Hansen a couple doors over said to her at the PTA potluck last week. The nerve. She talks and talks and talks so she won’t have to listen to the silence.

Or maybe it’s the religious nuts who come to bother us every other Saturday, consecrated clockwork. Such diligent apostles, they always come bearing pamphlets and brochures, their arms filled with the Word of God. They like to ask in milk-and-honey voices if they can come in and read us a few selections from the Bible. This time, I see them out the window before they get to the door, walking slowly and deliberately up the driveway in their conservative lavender skirts and ivory shoes. I turn off the lights and hide. We’re not home, we’ve never been home, we’ll never be home, so don’t come back.

The doorbell rings.

It’s for me.

© 2015 Jen Corrigan

Jen Corrigan has contributed to Topics in Recreational Mathematics (Volumes 3 and 4) and Alphametics Expressing Thoughts from the Star Trek Original Series, each edited by Charles Ashbacher. She is a graduate student in the MA Creative Writing program at The University of Northern Iowa.

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