i want to build a skyscraper, seventeen stories high
and fill each floor with a story from the people who never said goodbye.
a middle child, born in 1994,
she always wanted to be loved the most
until she learned how to give a blowjob
in an alley behind Miss China’s Takeaway
at knife point.
she lost her childhood
to an ocean who always thought it was small
and never stopped pushing its borders.
he’s not sure how he’s supposed to live without her.
staring at the closed coffin, he loses the ability to want to.
it’s not fair, she thinks,
that the house creaks when she’s trying to sleep,
but when he leaves, it doesn’t make a sound.
nine months and a small coffin later,
she thinks she likes the name “amber”
“tomorrow,” he says as she passes him in the hallway—
him from math, her to english. “i’ll tell her tomorrow,”
a thought he had had for the last six years.
after two years, she’s become adapt at hiding the bruises,
and telling herself this is how daddy shows his love.
“why was i born wrong?”
“you were born mommy’s perfect little girl.”
“that’s not what i am—not what i want to be,” he said.
children can be cruel, they say.
children can be fucking sadists, he thinks as he
stares down his mother’s razor.
if she had been a minute faster,
she could have stopped that bottle of pills
from becoming just a bottle.
when the doctor asks him two years later
if he’s doing fine, he signs,
“I wish you had let me die.”
a slash to the throat,
a bump to the head.
her mouth open in a scream,
the concrete stained red.
the child holds out a hand, her eyes round with wonder
and too many questions in choppy english.
much later, he wishes that instead of telling her
exactly how many mcdonalds per block new york city had,
he had said, “run, run! don’t you hear the bombs coming? run!”
the airport feels too silent, filled with
the people left behind.
she takes one last look at the vacant runway
and turns towards the parking lot.
“what? please stop. stay with me, please,
somebody help us! please, i love you, iloveyou,
i’ve got you, we’re gonna be fine, i lo—”
ms powell has stopped sending him the homework.
that’s okay, he guesses. at this point,
even if they find the cure for cancer, it’s too late for him.
a boy jumps from a bridge.
if he regrets it when he falls,
there is still nobody around to hear the splash.
i don’t need to hear how i am like them.
i know how i am like them,
we all have dusty photos we hide in our desks.
we all have bloody bones that shine white
from the cracks in our chests.