“Jelly” – A Short Story

I could swim in his eyes. Jump right in and wade around. Or backstroke. Or butterfly stroke. I’m not a swimmer. Maybe if I jump in, the water would finally drip out, overflow over the lower lashes and travel down a face skinnier than I remembered. A hairless face. Had it always been hairless? I just wanted it fall. The suspense was obnoxious.

And he sat there, trying to teach me lessons. Lessons I had already learned, partially thanks to him. I just watched his swimmable eyes, now finally too flooded to keep their composure, and his quivering lip. I let him talk. Sometimes people just needed to talk. To vomit words onto the floor so someone would come along, pick them up, fix them and make everything tidy again. No one took responsibility for their own messes anymore. That is what he wants; it is why he’s here, seven years later.

I was inpatient with the growing pool, so I jumped in. I felt the wetness from his eyes surround my skin. The cool, menthol feel made me jelly. His voice became the background as I swam from white, to black; right into the middle of his iris. He was saying words still. I’m supposed to put them together but I was busy perfecting my backstroke.

Your mother.

I realized I swam into 2007.

And I was walking into an empty structure that was my home.

And I was missing my dog.

And I was looking for food.

And I was breaking my dresser mirror.

And I was screaming at my family picture hanging on the wall.

And I was ignoring my best friend’s phone call.

And I was wondering where my mom was.

And I was wondering if it was worth it.

And I was trying to end it all. Then I got scared and spit out the pills.

And I was hating her for leaving.

And I was missing my dad. And then I was hating him for leaving too.

And I was blaming.

And I was confused.

And I was betrayed.

And I was hearing it was all his fault. And then I was hating him.

His voice is loud and then I was back to now

Finally I felt as though I could stop swimming. I jumped out of his eyes and shook off the jelly. I shook it off, forever. It dripped off of me into a puddle onto the floor and the jelly gathered without me at its center this time. Without me to drowned in it. Now his eyes were bloodshot. Red worms zig-zagged from corner to center, into the iris, where I just finished my backstroke. I stood up from my chair. He looked up at me, shameful, pleading. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“It’s alright Grandpa. I forgive you.”

Kasi DeFrieze

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