What Was Taken

Tonight we came home to this scene: The front door, ajar. Our things – clothing, books, dishes (broken), and those tiny milk glass figurines I’d been collecting since I was in high school – strewn about. I leaned against the door frame, staring, thinking about all of the words I would use to describe this: Agape, ajar, strewn, shattered, nausea. Dennis whispered commands at me: Get back! Call the police! Get your cell phone! Don’t touch anything! The more he hissed, the heavier I became, pushing against that door frame like a life support. In the end, it was he who rummaged through my purse to find my cell phone. He had to hang up twice and redial because he was fidgeting and shaking so much he couldn’t dial 9-1-1.

By the time the police arrived, Dennis had dragged me into the yard, standing close to the truck so we could make a quick getaway in case the “people who did this” decided to exit through the front door and chase us. We stood in silence as the sirens and the lights singled us out to the neighborhood. Heads poked out of houses, blinds slid open, and cars driving by slowed. And all I could think – as the officers walked through the house and Dennis, taking inventory, barked the things we were missing at them – was about that weekend I went camping with my dad when I was 12. We had just pulled up to the campsite, the sun had set and he was in a bad mood because traffic had delayed us. He hated pitching a tent in the dark, but still, he whistled while he did it. Perhaps it was his whistling that roused the buck nearby, who came charging out of the woods at such a speed I couldn’t help but stand and stare at it, wondering at the way I couldn’t make out its hooves. The only thing I’ve ever seen that has matched the speed of that deer was my father, who picked me up and threw me in the truck so fast that my shoulder popped out of its socket. The buck head butted the driver’s side door, making a dent that looked like a sculpture. My father drove up about a half mile from the campsite where he put my shoulder back in place and let me drink some of his soda with whiskey in it. When we went back to the camp site a few minutes later, my tears dried and sticky on my face, the tent was in shreds and our cooler of food was on its side, sandwiches and ice cream bars mushed into an unrecognizable pile. I sat quietly, thinking about cleaning up all that mess, when my dad put the truck back into drive and pulled away. “It’s just stuff,” he said when I sniffled.

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