Why do you never go home? He asks, and she shrugs and smiles.
Sometimes when they’re lying in bed she starts to tell him how her sister used to flirt with drugs, get high and crazy like a mad tornado spiraling and spiraling into nothingness and how one time she fell off the edge of the world, clutching a half bottle of Windex and a dirty old steak knife. But instead she’ll pull his arm around her and press her face in to his arm and fall asleep.
Did you want to go to boarding school? He asks and she’ll light up and tell him about her friends and the school she loves. But she’ll remember how her mother looked that day, and how she told her "maybe things would be better, if you weren’t around".
What is your father like? He asks and she tries to tell him how, when she was five, she would sit on the steps of their porch and wait for his truck to pull up so she could help him take off his shoes and how he would swing her up on his shoulders and carry her into the house while he listened to her chatter about her day.
He left, she’ll say. But she’ll leave out how it had been years since she was a little girl, sitting on a porch waiting for him to come home and how after he left her mother would look at her and tell her that maybe, if she had stopped at two, he would have stayed.
There are five us, she sometimes wants to protest and she’ll remember two little boys who used to tail her, like the ribbons of a kite, one far too sensitive and ill equipped for the world, the other sharp and funny and fierce, and how one day they too blew away, just like their sister, off the edge of the world.
She wants to tell him how it is to have a mother who has spent most of her life battling a depression she can't begin to fathom, and how a simple word like borderline can mean the difference between a happy Christmas and one spent hiding in a closet with a flashlight and what’s it’s like to watch the people you love spiraling and spiraling when all you want to do is stand still.
"You're so normal," he teases. "I'm sure everyone in your family is just like you." And she smiles.