My sons were watching a movie in the living room and I was upstairs, rummaging through their bathroom. I’m not really sure why, I almost never go in there, but there I was, and I’d had some wine, and we hadn’t left the house for twelve days, for Christ’s sake, so what else was I supposed to do? 

I looked in the drawers, looked in the shower, looked in the trash can, looked in the mirror and I looked old. 

I stuck my finger out like a cane, pointed it at the mirror, furrowed my eyebrows, and whispered at my reflection, “You pick up this hallway right this instant.” 

It was odd at first, seeing what my boys see. I thought about leaving, turning off the light, and joining them in the living room. But it felt a little bit good, mi petite performánce, so I tried, “You think I like being the bad guy?” 

And that felt a little bit more natural, so I kept going; I kept scolding that mirror.

“That’s it, no phone for a week.”

“Cut the shit, young man.”

“You get your ass back up those stairs, NOW.” 

I was getting braver, the boys were in the living room, I was sure they were, so I gave my voice a slightly longer leash, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to put that mother fucking phone down,” and “Hit your brother again and I’ll give you something to cry about,” and, yelling now, I mean, really pushing it, “You’ll drive me to suicide, Eileen!” Just how my mother used to say it. 

And then I turned the light off and left. 

But before I did, I used my oldest son’s toothbrush, because I missed him dearly, even though he was there, just down the stairs, watching a movie in the living room.

Natalie Warther Natalie is a senior writer at 72andSunny and a prose reader for GASHER Journal. Her most recent fiction has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, HAD, and Maudlin House. Natalie lives in Los Angeles. Twitter: @warther_natalie

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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