I am in my bedroom with my sister, Selma. An imaginary center-line divides her side from mine. Her side has the chest of drawers and the door to the hall. My side has the extra window, the closet and the desk. When we aren’t fighting, we can drape the bedspread between the desk and the end of my bed and play tent.
It is late. Late in child-language.
Nine-thirty or ten o’clock.
And it is sometime between the seasons. Spring and summer, or summer and autumn. The windows are open and the night smells good. I have another sister named Linda, and two younger brothers. Mikey is the oldest and Chucky is the youngest. They are stashed away in their own rooms. There are night sounds. Footsteps on the stairs. Giggles. A radio. A refrigerator door closing. The muted sound of the next-door neighbor calling to her kids. Selma and I are discussing whether the soul is an actual physical organ or if it’s something else. She thinks that if a surgeon were good enough, he could find the soul—maybe between the heart and the rib cage—I think it’s more like music. Disembodied and untouchable, but forceful and there.
The footsteps are press-creaking towards our room.
The door opens. I look up. My father walks in. He doesn’t say anything. There is a smile on his face. One of those secret smiles that doesn’t do anything to light up his eyes or to turn up his lips, but that you know is there if you are me or my brothers or sisters or my mother.
His smile is like music.
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