There's too much turquoise in my apartment for it ever to be attractive again. The blue-tumored stemware, the lizard lamp in the living room, the three-piece candle set I bought myself. All birthday presents. A tradition my dad started doing until he started forgetting things instead. The first gift, though, was from my mother: a faux-Navajo pattern blanket that hangs over my living room couch, tussling with the lizard lamp for notice. She left me in the blanket, wrapped like a womb, and then split the day after I came home from the hospital. My dad, he remembers none of this. I tell him he married Rita Hayworth and left her because the sex was bad. I tell him how they're building condos on Mars, but the weather's too shifty. I tell him to wear pants. I tell him my name. I tell him I could leave and he'd never notice. He nods, smiles.
Every Sunday I pick him up and bring him to my apartment for freeze-dried Stroganoff. I let him brown the already cooked meat in a skillet over no heat and turn on Hannity in the kitchen while I cut tomatoes. I tell him the story of how, when I was little, he and I would lay on the back porch, looking for constellations that I couldn't find on my own. At 14, I was finding Perseus before he could put on his glasses. "Tell me about Mom" I would ask, adjusting my back on the concrete.
After dinner, I walk him to the bathroom and turn mute the TV so I can listen for the flush. It comes, so I grab the turquoise blanket to share against the cold winds and we go out to the porch. No matter the weather, we always sit on the porch and I look up and we point out the constellations we can make out through the glow of the street lights. I point out the Big Dipper. I make him point it out, make him say the name. "The Big Dipper," he mumbles "the Big Dipper." Through the stretch of street lamps and legislation-stunted billboards, you can make out the blinking taxiway lights of the airport and if you squint a bit, the runway bleeds into the horizon line.
We sit on the porch, slack-eyed and wrapped in dyed cotton, both waiting, but for different things.
Dylan Smeak lives in Brooklyn, New York where he is an MFA candidate at The Writer's Foundry. His fiction is forthcoming in New World Writing.