by Marcelo Graña
MOTHER opens the window. Mother, who sits beside me, her breasts bare in the moonlight that invades our small apartment, opens the window.
Father watches intently as the figures in the television screen fight one another. Close the damn window, he says. Mother obliges.
MOTHER, who wears a red dress and heels, opens the window. She kisses me on the cheek and waves the nanny goodbye. I do not notice she is gone.
FATHER opens the window, and with it memories of his past in Chicago come rushing in through the air and into his drunken spirit. Mother places a blanket over him when he falls onto the sofa. He wakes when everyone else is asleep.
FATHER opens the window of my bedroom and kisses me goodnight. I dream of monsters and pineapple pies.
FATHER opens the window of the hospital room. I sit plumply on a wooden chair with my arms crossed and a frown on my face. Mother holds a baby in her arms.
I open the window of our now shared bedroom and consider throwing him out. No one would know, I think. Soon my mother installs a plastic fence on the window. In fact, the apartment is now a maze of white fences. I learn to play the piano. Father is proud.
MOTHER opens the window. Father closes the window. Mother opens the window and brakes it. Something is thrown onto the street. Father hits mother. My brother wets his pants. I hide behind the refrigerator.
BROTHER opens the window and says he wishes he could fly. I think of a story we read at school about a flying pig who is happy.
MOTHER opens the window. She cries onto a beige handkerchief that had once been white. She thinks enough tears have run down her cheek and into her throat.
FATHER opens the window to an empty apartment and a letter on the kitchen counter. He opens a bottle and swears at the air. There is no one around to hear him cry.
MOTHER’S mother, a kind woman I had never seen before, opens the window of our new house. I play on the small piano and look out at the ocean. Brother plays cards with mother and they laugh at grandmother’s jokes.
GRANDMOTHER, cursing the heat of summer, opens the window to a light breeze. Jeez, she says, this is some summer. Brother, looking up at my pimply face, opens the window as I read the letter to father out loud. We send it out that night.
GRANDMOTHER opens the window and sits us down on the bed. She tells us how babies are made but we already know. Mother opens the window of our bedroom. She complains about the smell. She stands by the door as we clean our room. We are blamed for being teenagers. Everything is now our fault.
MOTHER opens the window as she sings. I feel the blood rush to my face. Brother blows out my candles before I can. I do not like birthdays. Franky opens the window of his basement and we laugh. Through the smoke of our cigarettes I can see Lola watching me. Lola opens the window of her room so I can sneak in. We have to be quiet, she says. I think of the flying pig.
BROTHER opens the window because we cannot breathe. Mother cries into brother’s shoulder. My face is numb with pain. Grandmother does not wake up from her sleep.
BROTHER opens the window of our New York hotel. We have come to find father but he does not want to be found. Brother cries and I hug him.
MOTHER opens the window of my dorm. Brother throws my pillows on the ground and tells me I will fail my classes and be back home in no time. Ansel, my roommate, opens the window and sticks his head out to vomit. We laugh at the empty bottles and learn to regret yesterdays. Lucia opens the window. Raquel opens the window. Emma opens the window.
PROFESSOR REYES opens the window of his office and hands me a letter. Later, I open the window of the green room. Again I cannot breathe. I can feel my heart opening itself up inside my chest. I see the faces of my brother and mother out in the crowd. I see the face of father too, but only for a second. Music fills the auditorium and I once again think of the flying pig.
BELLA, naked and vulnerable, opens the window. I think I like you, she says. Mother opens the window and sits back at the dining room table. Bella and mother burst into laughter. Brother eats without a breath. When he finishes he announces that he will not attend university. Suddenly the yams are no longer on the table. Bella tries to calm mother down. Brother asks me if he is a disappointment. Never, I say.
BELLA opens the window as my music floods our apartment. She writes poems on her notebook and talks to me about traveling to Japan and Peru and Egypt. My music stops and I suddenly drop to the ground. There is a pain in my head I have not felt before.
A DOCTOR opens the large window of his office. Bella holds my hand. He says there is something wrong with me. I collapse to the ground again. At night I wonder where father is
MOTHER opens the window to the hospital room. Even though the cold air makes me feel worse I know it calms her. Brother holds my hand. Bella cries but mother says everything will be ok. The pain is now in my chest, refusing to leave and I can begin to feel another window opening. I do not feel cold anymore. I want to hold their hands one more time and instead I smile and close my eyes.
I open a window.
Marcelo Graña was born in Lima, Peru. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University in New York. He is at work on his first novel and a collection of short stories.