B. R. Yeager
Your son is 30 and still can't take care of himself. For a while he managed to fake it; long enough to lock down a wife, but the charade gave out sometime after the second year mark. He goes days without bathing—days of nursing bacteria-caked pits and crotch—and his bedroom looks like a crack house. (Your daughter-in-law tells you that six months ago she resigned herself to the couch). Your son sometimes forgets to eat, but only when he isn't gorging throughout the day, and when his weight finally ballooned past 300 his wife couldn't look at him without crying.
Your son lost his job. Your son went back to community college and dropped out.
Your son still jerks off 17 times a day; lets his seed just drip and crisp on the sheets that once also belonged to his partner, or seep and stiffen the fibers comprising his jeans. He never washes his clothes—just cycling and re-cycling through three distinct piles of filthed garment, strategically cultivated into volcanic islands atop the carpet. Every shirt he owns is streaked with dried soup—either red or pus-colored.
The last time you saw him, he smiled but there wasn't any light behind his eyes.
Your daughter-in-law tells you she is frightened of your son. She says she can count the words he says each day on one hand. She tells you that several months ago they adopted a puppy, but she gave it away because your son would never feed it while she was at work.
Your daughter-in-law buys all the groceries. Your son almost never leaves the apartment.
Your son is still a liar, and you still can't quite be sure you're safe because he still dreams of you every night. He dreams of you in ways you could never begin to imagine. And no one knows this, but your son is watching you right now. He is standing in his bathroom in his broken-elastic boxers and sweated-out sneakers, the laces untied and flailed against the freckled tiling. His eyes are wide open, aimed just above the mirror on the medicine cabinet, and when he focuses hard—so hard his eyes go blurry and his temples ache—he can see you, awake and pacing the hardwood miles away. And if he could speak to you, he would say he was the face in the light of the moon. He'd tell you his teeth were made of ice and grit, and his breath was a frozen spear. And if he could, he'd breathe all over your world, turning it cold and gaseous. He would watch your skin and hair starve gray. And he would smile at how surprised your mouth had curled and eyes had widened; he would smile thinking of how that expression would be locked on your face forever. You would be so surprised because even though you couldn't see him—you would have no way of knowing it was his breath raining down from the moon up high—you would feel his familiarity. And he would look down on you from the sun's reflected light, knowing your last memory was of you fixing his tiny, 8-year-old frame in a bed shaped like a race car, silently praying he would still be safe and okay when you came to wake him the next day.
About the author:
B.R. Yeager lives in Greenfield, MA with his fiancé and their imaginary dog named Lobster. He is a music critic and Senior Editor for MXDWN, and his prose and poetry have appeared in Vending Machine Press, decomP magazine, Cartridge Lit, Unbroken Journal, Pigeonholes, Cheap Pop, Mixtape Methodology and FreezeRay Poetry. Yeager's first chapbook of poetry, WORLDS OF RUIN, is available through Five Quarterly. Read more here.