#29

Marion picked up a garbage bag, her shoulders slumped in premature defeat as she gazed at the room before us. The state of the one room apartment looked like the result of a wild and angry animal.

“Well,” She looked at me. “I guess we’d better get started.”

I nodded, slipping on gloves and bent to examine a broken picture that leaned against the wall, presumably not having been touched since its fall. Our parents had gone out in flames, almost literally.

“Should we go through it piece by piece?” I wasn’t sure what I wanted Marion’s answer to be, but braced myself for not liking it.

“What? No. Let’s toss it all, right now.” She was stuffing her garbage bag with what looked to be the contents of a down comforter, thick wet chunks of feathers and strips of deep blue satin. Marion treated every obstacle like a band-aid that needed to be ripped off as quickly as possible.

“What about this?” I held up the broken picture.

Marion stopped stuffing, beads of sweat just beginning to form around her red face. She took the picture from me, slowly, carefully, shards of glass tinkling down to our feet. The picture was of our family, taken about fifteen years ago in the JC Penney photo studio. We all looked happy, smiling, our matching jeans and white sweaters a believable facade for who we actually were. There was no evidence of the screaming and hitting and throwing and hiding and crying and just wanting love, love, love.

“I didn’t know they still had this,” She said, trying out a few facial expressions. Angry, sad, touched, then cold and unfeeling. “Toss it.” She said.

“I’m keeping it,” I said, pulling the photograph out of the broken frame.

“Whatever,” Marion said, resuming her violent stuffing.

I folded the photograph and slid it into my pocket, realizing I was wearing the same pair of jeans as in the photograph. Sighing, I reached for a garbage bag and tossed the frame inside, the corners pushing out the plastic restraint in sharp protest. I felt sympathetic, and snapped the frame into pieces to better fit, then felt even worse. I grabbed an empty vase, vomited quickly, and straightened.

“You good?” Marion asked, glancing back at me.

“Yeah.”

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