When Grandma passed away three sisters, one golden shepherd and a cooler filled with bologna on rye climbed into the back seat of Dad’s 83 Volkswagen Rabbit.
Sarah was only seven. Even then she did not believe in Jesus, or Heaven, or the saying Big Girls Don’t Cry. She does not remember our old dog Rusty who died in the summer of 89 or how mom buried him in the backyard. Mom told us all he was helping tulips grow. Sarah does not want tulips, she wants grandma Ruth. She sobs the first thirty miles on our way to Vermont.
Dad hums along to Billy Joel and mom turns up the radio so he can comfortably sing along. Dad has been unemployed five weeks now and when he is home we’re not allowed to play soccer or use the karaoke machine. Mom says there is nothing more valuable a girl can do than learn when it’s best to keep quiet. So we bite our tongues and paint our nails. Each brushstroke an anxious echo.
Dad passed Grandma’s exit so he could show us the house he built in Montpelier. He was only twenty-one and had a different wife then. They were married eighteen months before he sold the farm and came home to Long Island.
When we pull up to the old farmhouse dad tells us it’s exactly how he left it. It has its original wood, army green window shutters, and the barbed wire chicken coop. He heads towards the barn and we all trail behind. We listen carefully to our footsteps so we don’t crunch and crinkle old leaves too loudly.
Ten feet from the coop sits the Slaughterhouse. It's a run down shack with blood stained floors. Jessica, the oldest says it smells like periods. Dad bends down & traces the tin-like metal floor, fingertips collecting dried blood.
This is how I remember my father. Pulling mom in by the waste for a kiss while searching for a cleaver. Beaming as he says Look what a man’s two hands can do.
Kathleen is a writer and women's rights activist from Long Island. Her first published piece was published by Anti-Heroin Chic on International Women's Day. Since then she has been featured in Mused, Shot Glass Press, and The Long Island Literary Journal.
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