jessie I don’t have to see myself to know what I look like. My eyes are fat and bloated, so bloodshot the sclera is bereft of white. The skin around them is red and raw from rubbing. They’ve been like this for days. Ever since Mom’s body began shutting down, her hands and...

Later, after I return to Mom’s room, I think about him. The guy from the cafeteria. After the hospital’s hallway lights are dimmed and all is quiet—well, mostly quiet save for the ping of the EKG in Mom’s room and the rattle of saliva in the back of her throat since she...

eden May 16, 1996 Egg Harbor Aaron showed me the house today. I’m in love with it already—a cornflower blue cottage perched on a forty-five-foot cliff that overlooks the bay. Pine floors and whitewashed walls. A screened-in porch. A long wooden staircase that leads down to the...

jessie I had Mom cremated at her request. I carry her around now in a rhubarb-glazed clay urn with a cork in the top, one she bought for herself when the cancer spread. It’s cylindrical and inconspicuous, the cork stuck on with an ample amount of Gorilla Glue so I don’t lose...

The kitchens are tight. The stoves are old and electric. Freckles of mold grow in the showers’ grout. The closets smell like urine. Lightbulbs have burned out. But it isn’t the mold or the windows that bother me. It’s the noise and the neighbors—strange people just on the...

eden July 26, 1996 Egg Harbor It just so happens that we do have neighbors. They came this afternoon after Aaron had gone off to work, a pregnant Miranda and her two boys, five-year-old Jack and two-year-old Paul. They came trudging down our gravel drive, Miranda pulling both boys...

jessie Tonight makes five days since I’ve been asleep. It’s my first night in my new place. I spend it not sleeping, but rather imagining myself dead. I think of what it must be like for Mom, being dead. Is there blackness all around her, a pit of nothingness, the blackest of...

eden August 2, 1996 Egg Harbor The days have grown longer now that the task of getting settled into the cottage is through. The walls are painted; the unpacking is done. The garden has become a waiting game, staring at the soil, waiting for something to appear. Always waiting. Every...

jessie Everything changes with the break of day. As the sun rises, gliding over the horizon, the world turns bright. The oppressive burden of night disappears. For the first time in eight long hours, I can breathe. In daylight, I find myself standing above the floor register on...

eden September 14, 1996 Egg Harbor The town was mobbed with people today as it always is on Saturdays, vacationers trying hard to take advantage of the last few warm days before fall arrives. It’s September now, days shy of the equinox, and as September eventually bleeds into...