Five Points, Vol. 2 No. 2Winter 1998
From Reynolds Price, “I was a child who followed the line of praise… If you told me I was wonderful at writing, I immediately started writing with both hands and both feet to prove how right you were.”
My mother and father were fighting in the dining room. This was the year we faced the Atlantic Ocean and all of Daytona Beach. The year we lived on the twenty-third floor, in a condo, Pleasure Towers. The building seemed to sway. I could see the ocean between them. I thought he was going to hit her.
“What do you want me to do? What do you want?” He held his drink in front of her face like a citation.
She marched through the sharp bright light in the dining room and braced herself on the glass table with her arms as if she was holding that plate of glass down, keeping it from slipping off. Sid and I went and sat under the silky sheflera. We were brought together as a family like this every afternoon. My father, an accountant, was not working. He’d been sent here to teach. It was summer. He hated his ex-students all day and went out all night. Sid and I were dizzy all the time. That condo was all one big room once you got out of the kitchen. I crawled past my yelling parents on my hands and knees, across the white shag, and folded myself in the credenza, which was nearly empty, because we were just staying here, we weren’t really putting down roots. I sat there crunched up among other people’s tablecloths, our boardgames, Battleship and Trouble. Sid was supposed to make sure I didn’t get locked in. I opened the door to the exact right place. From this vantage point, I had a new view of my family’s legs. My father’s, bare, because he was in his usual outfit, black dress shoes, thin white socks, and his tight green bathing suit, a bikini. It seemed to me his legs were missing a lot of their hair. They were bare, skinny, and shiny, as if he were a woman, or diseased. The skin was pink and spotty, like a leopard shell.