You played quietly, as instructed. Hunkered in the gap between your bed and the wall with a ballpoint pen swiped from the telephone table in the hallway. Tiny particles of chalky white paint clogged the tip, but you continued, undeterred. Bubble hair for Mum, glasses for Dad. Even baby Liam, who didn’t come home from hospital, clutched a wiggly ball with baby star hands. Outside the closed door the floor lamp tottered over and something banged then shattered like ice. When you tried drawing Mum’s eyes more beautiful they chipped holes into the paint below.
In high school, you outline the holes in your jeans with call-to-action song lyrics, unravel lines from Jane Eyre in black ink along the silk of your forearm. You must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me. You play one off the other. You have a theory that everything sinks to the marrow eventually. One night at supper, your stepfather grabs your wrist and pushes back your long dark sleeve and pronounces that only whores and prisoners mark up their flesh.
Later, years later, spun in another world, you will take a lover who lets you draw on his body. Droplets of sweat, earthbound and sweet, will rise from his core as you map out your world in constellations of words and images. When you finish, you will lay his world atop of yours in a maze of intersecting histories. Sometimes, you will imagine your voice unfurls through the space between your now separate bodies, ripples along that undone path and flares like a celestial beacon.