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by K.V. Douglass

“Don’t ask me! I don’t know why she sat in there for two whole years! I don’t want to know, don’t want to think about her in that bathroom, wasting away. That stupid, weak-kneed man letting her do it, taking her food in there. Disgusting!

“Nice of the reporters, though, not to mention her name. Of course, everyone we know saw their trailer on the TV. I get the look—you know that slanted, squinty thing people do when they want to stare but know better. Then there’s that old biddy at the post office, always asking, ‘How’s your sister? Poor thing.’ I know she really wants me to spill my guts, but I just say, ‘Oh, she’s coming along, thanks.’ And I leave.

“I haven’t been to see her yet. Before when I tried to visit, that man just met me at the door and said she was ‘napping.’ And then she’d call and say she was fine, just didn’t want company. So I couldn’t very well go to the police. I mean, she sounded okay. Course, I had no way of knowing she was sitting on the throne when we spoke. That toilet seat just finally eating into her butt, till even that stupid bastard boyfriend knew it was wrong and had her hauled out of there.

“Can you imagine what those EMT’s thought? Not that my sister ever gave a damn about what anyone else thought. I mean, what she did to Mama, well, that just shows how selfish she is. She’s the oldest of us kids and when Mama asked for a little help now and then, you’d think her firstborn would step up. None of the boys had any time, what with one in jail and the other two wearing themselves to a nub keeping food on the table. And there I was with two babies, and for sure I couldn’t take them to Mama’s. They’d have caught some disease, the house was so filthy. No, the oldest girl should have gone in there and cleaned the place.

“You know, when we were kids and it was her turn to do dishes, she’d lock herself in the bathroom. Daddy, bless him, he busted the door down one time. Dragged her out of there screeching like she’d been scalded.

“Well, I tried to go visit at the hospital, but they said she’d disallowed visitors. One of these days, though, she’s got to show her face. Then I’ll just give her an earful.

“You want I should heat up that coffee for you?”

Karen Douglass’s books include Red Goddess Poems; Bones in the Chimney (fiction); Green Rider, Thinking Horse (non-fiction); and Sostenuto, (poems). The Great Hunger (poems) is now available from Plain View Press (2009). She is an associate editor for The Café Review. Contact Karen.