A mad house.
Fire, fire, fire.
Fresh out of the womb,
My older brother, Alex, holds me
(Because my father won’t)
And as far-fetched as it sounds,
I still remember gazing up
At his pudgy, vanilla donut face.
My younger brother, Michael, is born
With a full head of ebony hair
And my father’s complexion.
Years later we will joke about
How he looks nothing like Dad
And how Mom must’ve had sex
With the Mexican mailman.
I’m sitting on the bristly carpet in the living room
Examining my father as he watches Baywatch
On an outdated television.
I want with everything in me
To nuzzle under his arm, but I really
Don’t want him to get the wrong impression.
Mermaid colored hair dye
Bought at 16 dollars and 99 cents at Hot Topic.
Mom throws a tired look and says,
“You better not get that all over the bath tub.”
At 12 a.m.
Alex wheels around his Ford Ranger
As I hop the backyard fence.
He drops me off at the house of Andre Valdez.
Andre sneaks me in the window
And gently places a kiss on my bottom lip.
“Just take it. I don’t want it anymore.”
His friends convince him the next day that I must’ve been lying
Because it sounded like I was trying to shove stolen goods off on him
More than my virginity.
It was night;
He sat amongst a group of friends chain-smoking Camels
Outside McClaine’s Coffee House.
When our eyes waltzed together a little voice in my head said,
“Look, your new boyfriend.
Now isn’t that charming?”
I write an essay on death in an attempt to follow in Alex’s footsteps.
I get very peeved, though, that my fifth grade teacher doesn’t wince at my essay
While his got him flagged as a suicidal and sent to a psychologist
Who wouldn’t shut up
About his dead hamster.
I nearly walk in on my father using silverware to eat a Snickers.
I steadily creep backwards to my room.
Mom and Dad finally divorce.
Alex and I throw a house party while Michael,
gets depressed and becomes a compulsive eater.
The Greater Los Angeles is in panoramic view from Auntie Pumpkin’s roof-top party.
We are eleven stories up, there is a DJ, there is too much vodka,
There is my aunt telling all the boys about how she used to look just like me,
But with bigger boobs.
I get married. Everyone is very, very surprised.
I’m a patient at an eating disorder program at St Joseph’s Hospital.
Our nutritionist decides to take the group of us to Corner Bakery for a challenge lunch.
Heather starts to cry mid-order,
Jennifer uses the purse on her lap to spoon mashed potatoes into,
And Tommi is on an antidepressant dose too high for her—
She smiles and smiles and smiles.
I ask mom if she felt that married my father was a mistake.
She says that while marrying an abusive pill-popper who uses too much hairspray,
usually is a mistake, this time it wasn’t.
“Because I wouldn’t have had you, Alex, Michael,” she says.
Writer: Brittany Dani West
Artist: Lainey LaRosa, an Orange County native born in 1994, enjoys creating all forms of art, but most commonly practices in photography. Most of her work questions gender and sexuality and reflects suburban life.