And Stones

April 6th, 2014, 5pm

It was 17.8°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

We left home, married, had children of our own, found the seeds of meanness blooming also within us. -George Saunders, “Sticks”

When we’d go back home to visit, the seeds sprouted even though nothing else grew there, high on the desert plain, where the only things blossoming weren’t things that blossomed at all. Wind. Dust. Our children stayed inside our parents’ trailer houses and slept on couches we’d sat on long ago, groping each other under heavy quilts made by a distant relative who lived in another state, already dead there. The children, they stayed inside while we sat in the car in those canted driveways trimmed in lava rock or gypsum. She in the passenger seat. Me with my palms on my lap and the shadow of the steering wheel darkening the tops of my hands.

I don’t know why you come with us, she’d say. You always make this so fuckin miserable.

I don’t know why you insist on coming period, I’d say. You moved away for a reason.

I moved away to be with you, she’d say.

I know, I’d say. And that’s why you keep coming back.

I wouldn’t say that last part, though. And she always let me have the final word.

Just a few years more and we all stopped going back together. We went back separately for the inevitable divorces and deaths and soon enough the only things worth going back for were the quilts, already stowed away somewhere in the attics and garages and storage lockers. And the children, all of them, not just hers and mine, hers and somebody else’s, they couldn’t tell one box or tote from another, the totes with the big black plastic lids and Halloween orange sides, the boxes with over half a dozen different names scratched out in fat black marker ink, struck through in even fatter horizontal squiggles: KITCHEN, RODNEY, EMILY, UPSTAIRS CLOSET, BASEMENT BEDROOM, TOYS, and TOYS, and TOYS.

But it ended up not mattering at all. The children, all of them, they weren’t really cold anyway. Certainly not like we were.

Deb, David Wade and Emanuel said thanks.

Share this moment

Trevor Dodge

Trevor Dodge is the author of The Laws of Average (Chiasmus 2014) and hosts the creative arts podcast Possible Architect. He teaches writing, literature and comics studies at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, OR and can be found online at

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook