In the livingroom. Steven and his sister, and the rifle from their father's bedroom. They only speak to each other when friends are over. At night the wind cuts through sore spots of the screens on the window in Steven's room and sounds like a soft little echo of a siren. His sister's room is cold and the lights are dim because she never changes the bulb. His sister's eyes are closed and her dress is hiked up so she can sit on the couch with her legs crossed. The music from the video game start screen is familiar. They played it earlier. At dinner she put the video game start screen back on after they'd already played it enough, and they both went to the table and they could hear it from the dining room. Their father was always polite, with his shirt tucked in, and he answered the front door with what could maybe have been a sigh of relief most times. His way of speaking had no audible sense of really being there, but he spoke better than most fathers. It wasn't a chore. By turns, his reception could be utterly surprised, or blatantly resigned. There was no authority in it at all. He'd probably invite you in at four in the morning if you just knocked on the door and asked if Steve was home.
Lonesomeness and solitude and complacent isolation has a rather disgusting grace with it if it can settle just underneath the skin and float there in the feeling of thickness in the morning that will always accompany awkward bruises and disorganized remembrances of pulling off shoes and placing them neatly by the side of the bed like they belonged there under regular circumstances. With a magazine open to game clues and some records no one listens to, and a dish of hard candy no one eats but the kid from the spider-infested place three houses down who probably views this as fantastical. A cloud of forgiveness always crawls toward the center of the room when lunch is finally decided upon, or drinks decided upon. Being lonely is like wearing a nice suit because everybody notices it when it comes into the room but they don’t really think about what’s underneath it because it usually doesn’t matter if the suit’s nice enough to subtract from the awkward places of silence in between the jerks singing and the ears pricking. It just doesn’t hardly matter what’s underneath. And it’s great, as is the diameter of a continent. Lonesomeness keeps the body afloat. It looms above the top of the horizon, inking a delicate sky with colorless dark smudges. Thick and uncompromised, somewhat threatening but actionless, not bothering to tell as much, until it wants to descend, closing in the night with a cape that blots out the sunlight but doesn’t keep anything actually hidden. From inside it's all the same, just with a twilight about it that means it didn't matter today either.
Then it breaks up into rain or just drops like a curtain and it’s time for bed. And if the bed’s warm or the blankets just comfortable enough to put a smile across the mouth, that’s just fine as a hug.
She stares at the television screen and he stares at the remote control and the laughter from the program fills the room. He hasn't showered in a week. She pulls his blanket over her knees and watches the shadow of the sunset gradually move from the midsection of the wall, down toward the floor molding. Steve thinks to go outside into the driveway, and his sister might follow. If there's a commotion outside at eleven at night. And in the moonlight, with his shirt off and her dress partially unbuttoned, out on the driveway, it's anybody's guess how long summer really is.
All the world’s beautiful things are like this.