Alison Ketcham was born and grew up in Bennington, Vermont. She currently resides in the suburbs of Washington, DC.
1 story by Alison Ketcham
Appropriately, it rained at your burial. I’ve been walking around with cemetery mud on my shoes ever since.
Twenty-two mosquito bites were acquired at the after party, huddled under a tarp as my cousin tuned a guitar. Forgotten relatives put their arms around my shoulders as I struggled to mentally compose a family tree.
I pulled a warm Coors from cooler of melted ice, drank it with too much immediacy. I bummed cigarettes from second cousins and neighbors of uncles and you-remember-mes that I-definitely-did-not.
I wondered if I was showing too much cleavage. I wondered what you would have thought of your party.
I scratched at fresh bites.
Everyone was telling and retelling the story of your funeral, four months previously. It was in February, which in Vermont means the heart of winter. The boiler in the old church had broken and we sat freezing in the pews. Everyone said it must have been your doing, punishing us for not attending after all those years. My mother and her sisters wondering aloud if they would burn in hell for taking communion. My father shivering with blanket on his lap. We all pretended we did not know he would be next.
The following day I watched my father stumble and fall into the backyard stream. His rib too fragile, cracking easily on a rock. The pursing of my mother’s lips and the extension of my boyfriend’s hand.
I visited the garden I planted as a child, now overrun with wild ginger. I eventually found the bleeding hearts, cat nip, and a hot pink rose bush that I can’t ever remember being in bloom. I walked on the newly planted grass covering the old swimming pool. Standing over where the deepest part used to be, I thought of late night drunken and stoned dives into the neon lit water. Testing the limits of our lungs as we skimmed along the bottom, losing our swimsuits sometime before resurfacing. We used to let the frogs launch from the palms of our hands.
These were the impossible hours, when it felt like everyone else in the world was wasting time on sleep. When a ghost was keeping watch over my parent’s bed. Breathing in—just briefly—their wrinkled foreheads.
It would get so dark at that house in the nighttime. But when the moon was full it swallowed everything.