Sometimes A Skeleton

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It’s 1993, and Michael Snow just wants it all to end. He feels detached, as if nothing has any consequence. But when he tries to hang himself in the bedroom he shares with his teenage sister, his near-death experience changes everything. His parents are constantly fighting, his sister is rebelling, and school is a nightmare. Yet even with everything that’s going on around him, Michael begins to wonder if maybe there’s more to this crazy life after all. Maybe there is something worth living for.

Written in just three days during a literary marathon, the story has been only lightly edited in order to preserve the frenetic style derived from the frenzied three-day blur. A story about love, loss, and learning to survive suburbia in the early 90’s.

Excerpt

My grandmother suffers from memory loss. At times she is clear thinking and self-sufficient. Other times she can’t remember her own name.

Gran talks to my mother briefly before passing off the phone to her nurse.

“Mrs. Snow?” says the nurse.

“Yes,” says my mother.

My mother listens, quietly, as the nurse explains in sympathetic terms, that her father has passed away.

After a long pause, during which my mother struggles to keep her composure, she breathlessly asks, “How did he die?”

Kevin squeezes more ketchup onto his plate, blowing a raspberry. Kimberly smacks him on the head.

My mom stays on the phone, asking questions. The table is quiet. She has an extended phone cord, so she heads into the kitchen to wipe the counters and wash dishes while the nurse patiently explains.

Eventually, my mother hangs up the phone.

She grabs a bottle of hot sauce out of the refrigerator and returns to the table. She serves herself another portion of meatloaf and smothers it in hot sauce.

The table remains silent as she takes her first few bites, chewing slowly. When she swallows, her eyes well up with water. She sits back, wipes her hair, and musters up a smile.

“Well,” she says, “Gran is going to be staying with us for a while.”

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