haunted house

Fri, 01/28/2022 - 10:29 -- layla_

there are ghosts in my hallways, skeletons in my closets, and nightmares sewn into my clothes

everywhere i look is a monster waiting to jump out and cut into me, the searing pain of a memory inevitable

i will do anything to avoid the sting, the burn, the fight

so i am constantly high off of tylenol. 

on my little brother's bed is a Paw Patrol stuffed animal

the police dog, well loved

whenever i lay my eyes on it, i only see him

three-years-old, lying half-dead in a hospital bed

there are bags under his beautiful blue eyes and purple bruises where the IVs punctured him

his cheeks are hollowed in, the dehydration and both types of flu not letting him even keep a glass of water down

in his limp hand is that dog

my birthday gift to him, one of his only comforts in that sterile white room

he came home a week later

and i still check his breathing as he sleeps, six years later.

/

in my closet, there's a grey sweatshirt

a hole through the sleeve, sewn up more times than i can count

when my fingers run across the soft fabric, i only see her

she is twenty-four, married for just five months, in and out of sleep in her hospital bed

Full House plays on the television above me

we talk in quiet voices, but all i can think about is how beautiful she looks even with the tubes up her nose

she is the bravest person i have ever known

even when she chokes out, "i can't breathe"

the last words i hear her say, haunting me for the next seven years, haunting me for a lifetime

nine, ten, eleven nurses flood the room

my dad drags me out by my small hand, mutters a goodbye to her husband

the call comes three days later

her siblings were by her side till dawn

we buried her two weeks before christmas

and i sleep in her sweatshirt, pretending she could've met my sisters.

/

from the foyer in my house, a leather jacket hangs

i slip on my own, comparing the rough fabrics

when i grip the cuff of the sleeve, all i see is him

his name is on the car screen, voice coming through the speaker

driving home from Toys R Us, i tell him all about my shopping trip and the dolls i bought

a day, maybe two, later, i wake up to my mother screaming

i will never forget her hysterical blubbering, not when i was eleven, not when i’m sixteen

just the night before, i had thought that things were finally getting better

he didn’t suffer long, my only consolation 

we buried him a week before christmas

and i slip on my jacket, wishing that i could at least still see the Toys R Us sign.

 

/

 

i have made friends with the ghosts

 

if you can't beat them

 

become one.

 

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