When my sister filed for emancipation and said to the judge that my mother made her do all the housework my mother laughed, said, “have you seen my house? Nobody has ever cleaned anything,” which wasn’t, strictly speaking, the truth. We tried, hands plunged into hot soapy water, frayed cloths snagged on bent tines, the stopper holding in the water and holding down the water bugs. I liked to suspend mine under the iridescent surface, the waterline bisecting my wrists, my fingertips wrinkling as though the tepid grease water was a bath. Once my sister shoved her hand into a glass and then through it, six stitches and a sink full of blood and my mother said it was her own fault, evidence of a temper untamed. Once my mother chased my sister around the kitchen swinging the wire end of a fly swatter while I stood back from the doorway, weightless, silent, just outside the frame. I remember my sister, seventeen, we didn’t know yet she was pregnant, cowering on the filthy linoleum in a crevice where the stove did not quite meet the wall. I was ten, staring, I thought into my future, but then my sister rose, taller than all of us, liberated the fly swatter from our mother’s gripping hand, bent it in half and pushed it down deep in the trash.
Victoria Barrett’s short stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Confrontation, The Massachusetts Review, and Puerto del Sol. Her essays, humor writing, political articles, and criticism have appeared in Gay Magazine, Salon, Indy Maven, and Washington Post. Victoria serves as the editor and publisher of boutique fiction press Engine Books, which she founded in 2011. She lives and writes in the Herron-Morton historic neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis. Follow her on Twitter at @victoriabwrites.