Dad says to mom, I need a ride to the pharmacy
The car is too hot, maybe we should walk.
I’m left to watch my brothers and sisters discuss
teenage melancholy rumors and cigarettes.
I sip green tea out of a white cup with a broken
handle, watching the world through the window.
Mom and dad look into the cracked window
of the run-down pharmacy
where Dave the pharmacist complains about his broken
car. Mom and dad just want their pills. They walk
tthe counter and talk to Dave, who wishes he had a pack of cigarettes
right now. Dad says to Dave, I want my pills, and they discuss
Zoloft, Prozac, Valium. After dad has his pills, Dave wants to discuss
his car troubles. Mom and dad pretend to care but can’t stop looking out the window,
where they see a big rainstorm starting to form. Everyone is trying to keep their cigarettes
from getting wet. Mom and dad leave the pharmacy.
They talk about what they will have for dinner as they walk
back home in the rain. Silently, mom and dad think about their broken
hearts. They come home to us, and mom starts fiddling with the broken
faucet. Dad calls his old college buddy to discuss
politics. Brother is bored, pacing, he walks
barefoot across the stiff carpet, looking ahead at the wall, not the window.
Dad is about to swallow his pills when he realizes the pharmacy
gave him the wrong ones. He yells, curses, tries to calm his nerves with a cigarette.
I go outside to enjoy the rain and discover a crushed cigarette
lying in the flower beds. I sit on the pavement, looking at the broken
glass on the road. All roads lead to the pharmacy.
At the table with turkey and peas, I watch my family discuss
college and careers. I’ve heard that the eyes are the window
to the soul, but I see nothing. I walk
out of the room. I need space, can’t get it here, decide to take a walk
in the perfect sunset, under the pink clouds and invisible stars. Dave finally gets his cigarettes,
I breathe in the fresh air and he breathes in the smoke. I look in the neighbors’ windows
and see blue flickering TV screens, silence, and broken
promises. Fathers tell their daughters that men are dogs, they discuss
this for a while. Daughters say, in soft sweet voices, could you give me a ride to the pharmacy?
The next day, mom and dad walk back to the pharmacy.
On the way, they discuss the dangers of cigarettes.
They look at the cracked window again, and realize that everything is broken.