The Cedarville Review 2021

I am sliding my right big toe back and forth over the slight divot in the vinyl tile of the kitchen floor. The cushion of my wool sock lessens the depth of the miniature canyon, but I can tell where each square starts and stops by familiarity. Back and forth, feeling for the crevice as my foot swiftly passes over it. Each movement is small, but enough; as soon as I sense the dip, I move my foot back rhythmically. My eyes stare vacuously ahead, across the table and through the balusters that separate the kitchen from the dusty family room half a level below. They half-heartedly focus on the dormant fireplace and dance over to the lumpy cream pullout couch painted with the foreign stains of childhood sleepovers and Superbowl parties. I squint through the slits in the wall to trace the silhouettes of the old stereo and our crooked-hung stockings, yet never commit enough to solidify the images. My foot is still softly swinging, back and forth, over the subtle dents in the floor. His muffled voice drones on in the background, sharing stories of Wednesday night’s dinner at The Wooden Nickel with Mark and Brenda. He speaks with a delightful disjointedness, like a child stumbling over the words to a story that you patiently and intently wait for them to finish. Our backs are turned to each other as he stirs the Knorr’s Chicken Rice on the stove, and I pick at my fingers in my lap and sway my foot under the table. I inhale remnants of the fake chicken seasoning that screams of sodium and masks whatever it is added to; it melts into the must of the stale and distant air that otherwise claims the house. I turn my head slightly to the right to examine his chair which is significantly more worn than any of the others. The already faded walnut wood looks nearly unfinished under the slits of light cheating through the sliding glass door’s blinds. I turn slightly more over my shoulder to face him as he breaks his murmurs with RICE KIT DINNERS HEIDIE RAINE