The sky was just as blue back then, the grass was just as green, my dad had the same bad temper he's always had. So he bit his tongue, or grit his teeth, and tried to listen when my uncle said people followed him in the street or in their cars; we took my uncle everywhere after the doctor said it really wasn't safe for him to drive. Sometimes when I looked at him and he looked back, he looked as if he'd woken up from a dream or from a coma; sometimes it looked for all the world like he was about to say, I haven't seen you since you were about this high, and looking back, sometimes I thought I might be like my uncle--and thought that I might need to be, at other times.
The sky was just as blue, the grass was just as green, and when my uncle called that morning you just assumed it was something about someone who followed him somewhere. My dad and I were supposed to pick him up that afternoon and whatever my uncle said, my dad couldn't bite his teeth or grit his tongue, and he slammed the phone down hard; we never asked him why my uncle called, like it didn't really matter. The sky would still be just as blue, the grass still just as green, and still, no one talks about that day.
We still went to pick him up that afternoon, and we took the yellow Dodge Charger, the same as we always did; we drove to my uncle's house the same way we always did, past all the same sidewalks and billboards, taking every turn the same. And with the same blue sky above and the same green grass below, there was only one of us that day who knew the ground can open up so you fall and just keep falling; only one of us knew then, hell can be as simple as a middle with no beginning without end.
We found my uncle in the bedroom off the hall, and it wasn't like you see it in a movie or on TV, where the music swells and stops, and off-camera there's a scream; in a movie or on TV a slow pan shows only the aftermath, only blood is misted on the walls, and in the movies and TV, you are only spared the sight of what you wouldn't be the same if you had seen.
But if the sky's still blue, the grass is still green, your dad has the same bad temper and the earth still turns the same, then you still have to put the pieces all together. And there's pieces that don't fit, there's colors you can't name; the movie didn't smell like the time you left the iron on too long. You think in ratios, equations, is there more blood or tissue on the wall, you think if you do this it costs you that--but music doesn't swell and you don’t scream, the dust of discharged metal just tumbles in the sun.
With the same blue sky above and the same green grass below, now the services are over and the relatives are gone; now everything’s the same as it always was. You still have to do your homework every night, your mother still makes you eat the brussel sprouts she knows you give the dog—if you insist on screaming now, you just keep everyone awake.
That's the kind of selfishness that keeps you from reaching your potential: you understand of course it's your future that's at stake. You won't get into a good school, or get a good job, or land a good catch--a nice boy wants a girl who knows when and where to scream.
So you try to hold it in or keep it down; you mix it in a drink, or you keep it wrapped and eat a piece a day. But the scream stays in your mouth and gets into your hair. It makes you bite your lip and comb your hair against the grain.
You take a step and fall and just keep falling; everything is middle without end. Now the grass could turn blue and the sky could turn green, and you will still be followed, on the street or in your car, by a man who put a bullet in his brain.