scarpaAll of the streets in the trailer park are named for fruits or for dead presidents—Cherry, Lincoln, Peach, Garfield—and if you walk them and peer through windows with parted curtains, you will see love being made, hate being made, bodies being discovered, bodies being forgotten, smoking and drinking and swearing and Bible reading, you will see people doing their best, and you will see that sometimes their best is not that good, and you will see rooms where welfare mothers rock babies and sing If I needed you/would you come to me?, and you will see double-wide lawns where men like my best friend’s father try to exorcise the gay out of their sons by placing a bat in their hands and lobbing underhanded tosses when what their sons really want is to bring the stereo on the front porch and choreograph intricate and well-intentioned routines to top 40 pop, and you will see Renee apply tanning oil to her frail leather body as she sprawls across the driveway from where she has moved her dented pick-up pocked with bullet scars, you will see her repositioning her beach chair to follow the sun in a circle and rotate 20-20 front and back, her body so crisp and even in next week’s open casket, you will see sober fathers and drunk fathers and belt-bearing fathers and fathers who hide child pornography in secret folders on their computer, you will see mothers like mine knocking over patio furniture in fits of manic rage, or mothers who hang confederate flags alongside American flags, or mothers who pray for drunk drivers and who pray for terrorists and who pray for their own recovery from afflictions of the mind and heart and body and soul, mothers who erect roadside memorials across town for sons and daughters squished between liquored tires, you will see old women whose children do not call or do not call often on hold with phone psychics from whom they seek guidance and answers but also sheer company, you will see old men who think of the rifles in their closets when a black or a Puerto Rican walks by but also when they catch themselves in the mirror or have too much time to think or drink, you will see motherless children riding rusted bikes and scooters and falling on cracked pavement, their knees and elbows scuffed and skinned like the scratch-off lottery tickets their fathers allow them at the liquor store checkout, you will see teenagers who consider themselves to be much older pass loosely rolled joints in the woods, the girls flashing their tits to the guys who ask nicely or who only ask or who simply insist, guys with acne on their backs which you could connect to resemble an outline of the continental forty-eight, guys who claim they’re allergic to latex, and you will see their younger brothers and younger sisters who sneak through the woods trying to find the hiding spot, and you will hear the older siblings yell, Get outta here you retards, go home, and you will see a pool the size of a postage stamp in the middle of the park where children are taught to swim, to dive, to walk don’t run walk don’t run walk don’t run, where these children compete to see who can hold their breath the longest but also to see who has the most bruises, kid fears, war stories, dead cousins, and you will see me leaving the pool despite having just arrived because I’ll never be comfortable taking my shirt off in front of anyone who isn’t a doctor, and even then, and you will see me walk back to my trailer on Lot 252, my dry towel dragging behind me like a tail that collects gravel and cigarette butts, and you will follow me into my house where my mother is having sex with her boyfriend, you will see their door close as I take off my sandals, you will see me contemplate going to the fridge—I am so thirsty—and decide against it because the kitchen is too close to my mother’s bedroom, and I don’t want to prevent her or interrupt her or make her think of me, and so instead you will see me walk into my room, where I will write in my journal on a blank page: I feel homesick but Im writing this at home.

Vincent Scarpa is a MFA candidate in fiction at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, The Austin Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and other journals. He tweets at @vincentscarpa.

Artwork by Stephen Knezovich