Every Night Like New Year’s
Look, my father says, we’re twins, and the nurse laughs once, loudly, then blushes.
Sorry, she says. You two are just too much.
Right down to the boobs. He pokes his left one through his Corn and Apple Festival t-shirt and she pokes him in turn—arm, not boob—then sails out past the curtain.
You’re skinnier everywhere else though, I say. I look at his purple-splotched arms. From a certain angle, if you squint past the splotches and bloat, if you pay attention only to the bones and the yellow-grey skin, you could mistake him for one of the starving girls we’ve seen in other hospitals. He’s even hairless from the head down. A symptom, like the boobs.
Bitch, I add. He laughs, weakly.
So how many months now, like…eight?
Dad. Try six.
Buttons there threw me off, I guess.
“Buttons” is the name my father has given his umbilical hernia—and, by extension, my outie. The nurse laughed at that one, too. Later, on Facebook, he’ll recall her horsey laugh, her Marge Simpson makeup-gun lipstick, he’ll share the way, when he told her three weeks sober, she clapped a hand to her heart and said, Oh, here’s hoping…
I love the ambiguity, he said once she’d left the room. Here’s hoping I’m telling the truth? Here’s hoping I fuck off and die before I show up in here yet again?