Landon scrapes his knees at six, his knuckles at sixteen. He unrolls our father’s old cigarettes on the front stoop, crumbles the bits of tobacco between his fingers, eyes roving the asphalt flowers. The girl he knocks his teeth together with in prom photos is made of smoker’s cough and lighter fluid, fake pearls and real patent leather. In kindergarten he gave her his shirt when she fell off the swing into a mud puddle. Her mother left razor knicks in our hair every spring until I was thirteen and he was eleven, long-boned and restless as lust, but she is like the distant relative he cringes to kiss.
Our father’s fists falls on Landon’s locked door, demanding he come down for dinner like a normal person. Landon opens the door, sweating and swearing, he does not want to eat with us, he does not want to eat at all, he is so tired, sometimes he has dreams of going into the kitchen when everyone is asleep, splicing his bones with a paring knife, digging out the marrow with a silver spoon.
Our father comes downstairs ugly and we all turn away from him after. Emma puts his plate of pot roast in the microwave, Reynolds Wrap and all. He eats it without complaint, peeling the singed parts up with his fork, tapping the tines on the metal part of the table.
Emma and I fix a bowl of Landon’s favorite cereal, Life, bring it upstairs on a dented tray Tyler and Emma always used as a shield during hospital food fights. He lets us in. we all stare at our hands, wondering who will be the first to swallow.
He tells me he ate on his way home.
Laura Ingram is a tiny girl with large glasses. She has been published in thirty literary magazines. Laura adores Harry Styles and Harry Potter.