“I’m schizophrenic.” Terry plopped down in his Lazy Boy which sat two feet from the kitchen table. His mashed potato skin blended into the recliner’s leather as he petted the brown shag atop his head. “Doctors tell me I am.” Terry’s belly kissed his thighs.
Donald put down his fork, swallowed a mouthful of pancake. “Are you talking to me?”
Terry looked Donald up and down and nodded. The whiskers on his double chin scratched. Skin rubbed against skin. “Ain’t nobody else here, except for Grandma making a ruckus in the kitchen.”
“She’s done making breakfast and she’s in the bathroom. Are you gonna eat or what?”
Terry glanced at the hallway leading to the only bathroom in the house. How grandma squeezed three grown people into a shoebox was beyond his comprehension. “I’m a dog. I have no concept of time.”
“Dogs still know whether or not someone’s in the room and they can smell breakfast.” Donald jostled the plate of pancakes, eggs, and sausage Grandma had left for Terry on the table. “Eat.”
“I can’t.” Terry shut his eyes. “The pills I take for diabetes and cholesterol upset my stomach.” Terry unleashed a sigh. “I’m gay.”
“How would that affect your—” Donald turned in his chair so he could face Terry. “—since when?”
“Since always.” Terry opened his eyes long enough to roll them. “Doctors diagnosed me as pansexual in fifth grade.”
“Gay and pansexual aren’t the same thing, and you still have to eat regardless.”
“Everyone hates me.”
“Thanks for the grub, Grandma. My back and shoulder thank you, too.” Donald limped to the kitchen table. His chair squealed but not as much as his joints.
“Don’t you scratch my new floor,” Grandma said. She waddled toward the bathroom. Her gut and love handles shimmied as she moved. “I’m fixing to take my morning constitutional.”
Donald had filled his big cheeks with a sausage patty, so he chewed the meat well enough to squirrel the sausage into his mouth’s pockets. “You starting morning walks?”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, boy,” she said. “You know I aim to go to the toilet. Tell your brother to get.”
Grandma shouldn’t talk to Donald like she did. He had as many aches and pains as Great Grandpappy before he died. He massaged his shoulder. He refrained from hollering, even though a shooting pain creeped into his shoulder blades. He eyed Terry in the bedroom hallway and winced as he jerked his head from Terry to the table as if to say, get your ass to breakfast.
Terry clung to the door jam. After slapping his over easy egg into his mouth and letting the yoke color his throat, Donald motioned Terry with his non-fork hand. Terry moped into the kitchen, his boat feet scraping the floor. He dropped anchor at the Lazy Boy shy of the table, and Donald snorted. “You need to eat, Terry.”
Terry said something pathetic—thank God Donald couldn’t hear him through his chewing. After Donald swallowed, he glanced at Terry to find him staring at him. Donald grunted. He didn’t like his brother’s stares, and the pain under Donald’s shoulder blade radiated.
Donald could swear his lump of a brother said something to him, so he put down his fork. “You talking to me?”
Terry’s eyes glassed over—fucking drugs—and then he mumbled something about Grandma in the kitchen. Donald messaged his shoulder. At least the doctors found shit wrong with him and that’s why he couldn’t work. What the fuck was Terry’s problem?
Kathlyn’s ass was a pale, seventies Cadillac trying its best to stay on a gravel road. Most days she felt one with her body, but she was aware of her flab today. Maybe she had woken up too fast—she hated the damn jingle her iPhone made when the alarm went off—or perhaps she grew tired pulling her family’s weight. She had to get ready for work. A twenty minute dump and a shower was her only alone time.
What the iPhone lacked in alarm, it made up with games. She slapped the candy on her screen as the young ones bickered over some foolishness.
“Ain’t no rest for the wicked, am I right?” a dark molasses voice said. When Kathlyn looked up from her phone, she found a candy corn with fairy wings hovering over her bathroom sink. The candy corn dumped sparkle dust.
“You better not clog the drain.”
The candy corn sprouted a mouth and grinned Kathlyn’s father’s grin: opened enough to show off a snaggletooth capped in gold. Kathlyn smelled the metal in her father’s mouth as the corn inhaled and exhaled. The candy corn gave her a wink and blew her a kiss like the kind her father gave her at bedtime. “That would pain you, Kathlyn,” it said, “and I would never knowingly pain you.”
“You ain’t real, corn. My father’s been dead for years.”
The corn flittered up to Kathlyn’s nose. “Your father may be dead, but he’s not gone and he knows you hurt.”
“What would you know?” Kathlyn returned to the candy on her phone. She gritted her teeth and stabbed at the hard candy. Her father had taught her about hard work—she committed that lesson to memory—and she learned how to stand on her feet. No one had to take care of her.
She matched four cinnamon discs but instead of vanishing, the discs turned into her candy corn father. “You could use a longer break than twenty minutes.”
“Get, you stupid corn.”
“Take a rest.” The candy corn leaped out of Kathlyn’s phone and into her eyes. She reached out to catch a rainbow, dropping her phone in the process. Her head fell back and struck the wall behind the toilet. Kathlyn heard the boys argue and just as she reached for her phone to call for help, her candy corn father whispered in her ear. “Rest.”