FLIP-SIDE/ Meg Tuite
Peanut butter and pathos were Elisa’s synopsis of childhood. Mom’s brown paper bag slashed with the name, Elisa in black marker marked her weekdays. Skippy smooth and strawberry jam stalked the inside of white bread while dad’s home-made psychosis slashed the nights.
Elisa couldn’t stop hell-humming “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older…” as dad and the Beach Boys drilled through her body. A point traversed from her chest up into the memory walls of the living room crawling with family angst and that fake, white Christmas tree mom lit up every night all year round, the beacon to insanity. Dad was either jacking the phone across the kitchen when it rang or slobbering over sunken days of wasted-loitering-bathrobe-forever regret.
Weekend nights were a filament of dad’s bipolar goblin. Sometimes he flung alone-ness into every corner of that goddamn house with those pills he refused to take, but then sometimes he’d blast that adrenaline bang of a song over and over until air trampled all signs of stagnancy out. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older…” was hopped up to the loudest crank and he’d grab Elisa like a bottle and swing her around to dance steps that never operated with his brain. Elisa would slam around that living room till all she could see was mania, a blur of twinkling white and the mosh-pit fury writhing out “then we wouldn’t have to be so…”, and they would laugh and sing and knock lamps and knick-knacks all over that room. Elisa filled herself with some kind of love for those whacked out blue eyes of dad’s that looked directly at her while she spun in circles, instead of those eyes of his she was used to seeing. The ones that looked right through her.
Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, 34th Parallel, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle and Boston Literary Magazine. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. Her novel “Domestic Apparition” (2011) will soon be available through San Francisco Bay Press. She has a monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” for Used Furniture Review.
Her blog: http://megtuite.wordpress.com.