Fiction · 12/08/2010


Everything was normal on Monday. Same for Tuesday. Wednesday came and went. Thursday was just fine too. Friday happened, and all of the sudden it was Saturday. On Sundays, we eat a big breakfast of eggs and bacon and sausage and pancakes and oatmeal and jellies and coffee and juice and hash browns and onions and everybody talks about their week.

Everyone agreed that Monday was normal and Tuesday was too and Wednesday just happened and Thursday was no cause for complaint and Friday turned to Saturday and here it was Sunday and we were all enjoying our meal together. Mom, Dad, Kaitlin and I, we were enjoying our meal together. It was a fairly really normal week and not much happened one day to the next. We had a sharp knife for cutting the breads and sausage and it clicked on the butter plate each time we were done with it. The knife clicked on the butter plate as Mom passed me a bit of bread all buttered and asked me if I wanted another egg to go with it. And I said I did because I can eat, just like Dad, we both can eat, so I went egg after egg after egg, the knife clicking all the while and my Mom wiped her hands on her lap and asked us what we all thought about all this regularness.

Everyone agreed things were good, things were great and everything was just fine and just normal, which we liked because nothing was too hard on anybody, not really. The knife clicked on the butter plate and Kaitlin caught a drip of running butter with her tongue before biting into another slice of bread. We were all quiet a moment, each of us chewing, and you could hear the neighbors upstairs moving furniture or dancing or taking heavy steps back and forth like they were measuring the room for carpet. My dad went in for more butter and my mom let her eyes roll back and up, so her gaze followed the sounds of the neighbors.

Something heavy was being dragged by two people, it seemed, back and forth. They started at one end, near Mom, and worked their way toward Dad, at the opposite end of the table. Kaitlin and I were chewing, and I was working on egg number four when Mom stopped watching the sound because it hadn’t changed in so long. Then Dad clicked the knife again and poured himself more coffee, but spilled a bit, not thinking of how full the pot is, and that startled him so he spilled some more.

“God damn it,” he said and got up to stop the coffee from gathering in his lap. He ran the water in the sink and Mom dabbed at the floor with a paper towel and Kaitlin and I kept chewing because there was nothing much we could do but chew and listen to the neighbors dragging whatever it was they were dragging, and maybe get some more butter like Kaitlin was doing when the knife went click.

“God damn it,” he said and looked up at the sound and then nothing could stop him as he was out the front door of the apartment, climbing the stairs then banging on the neighbor’s door, saying things like, “We know you’re in there!”

“We know you’re in there,” he said and kept knocking, while we were sitting at the table, Kaitlin and me, and Mom was in the doorframe watching him bang on the neighbor’s door and yell like a policeman for the neighbors who just weren’t listening, or just didn’t care, because that dragging sound was still working its way from where Mom had been sitting to where Dad had been sitting and Kaitlin and I were just eating and trying not to think about it, or at least I was, while Kaitlin was kind of watching everything at once.

Mom said, “Your father’s just acting crazy,” and got the knife.

From the doorframe, she yelled for him to come back down and when he didn’t she slammed the door and stuck the knife into the frame so it wouldn’t open inward. Then she sat back down with us and buttered her bread with her finger. Kaitlin looked over at me and mouthed the words, “Oh my gosh.” I ate another egg.

Then the handle popped off the knife and did a few turns before clacking at the hardwood floor as bits of the broken blade did cartwheels, clicking here and there, and Dad was back inside, as if he hardly noticed the knife. He came back over to us and stood behind Kaitlin, his hands on the back of the chair. From there, he listened to the sound of the neighbors dragging whatever it was they were dragging back and forth, back and forth, and he said, “What the hell are they even doing up there?” and none of us really knew what to say. Kaitlin buttered a piece of bread like Mom, with her finger, and all of us just kind of waited for him to sit back down, which he did soon enough and we all went back to eating Sunday breakfast.

The neighbors were dragging something throughout the day until Sunday turned to Sunday night and we all got ready for bed and stop listening to the neighbors through the kitchen floor. I was glad my dad calmed down, that the coffee in his lap cooled. He’s got a weak heart, small lungs, high-cholesterol, thin blood, an angled spine, dry skin, bad nerves, ulcers and a weak constitution. I don’t know when he’s going to die but he’s going to die before any of us, so every extra action is spring-loaded with that inevitability.

Monday wound up being normal enough, and Tuesday was just fine. Wednesday we heard more of the neighbors, but Thursday was quiet as can be. Friday was Saturday before we knew it, and Sunday meant a big breakfast, which we ate as we always ate.


Colin Winnette’s writing is forthcoming in American Short Fiction (January, 2011) and The Ampersand Review. He has appeared in The North Texas Review, the Tex Gallery Review, The Denton Scramble, Through the Looking Glass: The Sarah Lawrence Review, and online at He blogs at allofthisbeforeeleven. He is a MFAW candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a curator/coordinator of Tex Gallery, a collective art space in Denton, TX. Part of him is still in Vermont.