thursday. tyler growled & meowed & pawed the ground under our desks
& on friday he wasn’t in our kindergarten class anymore. my mother claimed
his exit as a special case, an uncomfort- able slant suggesting a worse kind
of special than when she complimented the quick, automatic categories i could sort
her country songs & my own bathroom toys into, how young i had begun
to read the hard-covered classics off our living room shelves. she pretended
not to notice how i was still learning when silence signaled an end
to speech & when it simply marked a pause. i do not owe these details.
i deserve silence too. my mother called me too sensitive & i believed her, hiding
from adult conversations in the beige-walled bathroom & tracing the words i could
overhear onto my hands. i wanted to stay unremark- able & unremarked upon. i wanted to stay se-
cure from wherever tyler went. wherever they took tyler. between luck & privilege the least harmful
option i had was to stay unidentified. mother- fuckers framing a choice like that
for a four-year-old who could only understand how to tamp & temper down, to nod & not
interrupt & not be interrupted. at nights when my mother slept i snuck out of her scratchy
blankets & crawled under the bed frame. my body pressed tight between
the cool floor & thick mattress, i felt put together, contained, safe. on the ground
there was nowhere to go but there.
Courtney Felle (she/they) is a recent graduate of Kenyon College who now lives between Western NY and Washington, DC. Their previous writing can be found in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Half Mystic Press, The Ellis Review, and L’Éphémère Review, among other publications. They are a big fan of long road trips, large mugs of tea, ultra-specific Spotify playlists, and disabled community support. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram.