Psychopomp Magazine Winter 2014 - Page 20

LENA SMOOT

Suggestions for Dating the Living

and Having Brunch with their Family

When my father answers the door, do not be offended when he looks right through you. He’s not like me. He can’t see you.

I’ll introduce you to him and guide his hand to meet yours so that you can officially meet. My dad believes you can tell a person’s character through their handshake. I know he’ll barely be able to feel you, but it’ll be better than nothing. Besides, I think he’ll be surprised to be able to feel you at all.

My mother will be able to see you. She has the same gift as me. She’ll appear behind my dad and chastise him for not inviting us in yet. She’s convinced that being in the cold causes one to catch a cold. After she ushers you in, she will force you to sit in the good chair, the one we inherited from my grandfather when he died. He bought it from his favorite Chinese restaurant when it went out of business. It’s not very comfortable, but thankfully you won’t be able to feel its hard, stiff wooden back. Did I ever tell you about him? The one with the prosthetic foot? I have told you? Good.

She’ll offer you a refreshment, probably a mini quiche and a glass or orange juice. I will explain to her that you don’t eat anymore, and she’ll insist that you “try a little something. Just a nibble. Some fruit? A glass of water?” Just decline politely, and I’ll emphasize that you really can’t eat anything. “Oh. Right. Yes.”

There will be an awkward pause in the conversation at this point. You should feel free to look around at the décor of the living room. Be sure to compliment my mother’s interior decorating skills and pay particular attention to the flowers on the coffee table. She is very proud of her floral arrangements.

My mother cannot stand awkward silences, so she will excuse herself to the kitchen to check on brunch and make sure the eggs are cooking evenly. Last time, she didn’t watch them, and half of them burned black and the other half were runny and raw. We call them Juevos de Raquel.

While all this is going on, my sister Maria will be sitting on the couch in the corner, knees pulled to her chin, not saying anything. My mother will have forced her to wear some kind of conservative dressy-casual outfit which will almost cover the rose tattoo on the bit of skin where her shoulder meets her neck.

Maria will pretend not to see you. Don’t take it personally; she’s sixteen and going through a phase.

Having heard the doorbell, my brother will bound down the stairs, taking two steps at a time. I bet you he’ll trip on the last step like he always does because he’s not used to how big his feet have gotten. He’ll look around the room trying to find you. He’ll squint and pat the air with an outstretched hand trying to feel you. Don’t worry, by then, my mother will have returned

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