BY SEAN ENNIS
My son uses our bedroom like a hallway and then swears to his video game that someone is going to die. He doesn’t notice his mother, who looks at me, is home already. The dog is exhausted from its own obsessions on the corner of the bed.
My wife says, “Is that really play?”
So I knock on my son’s door with my usual hey bud, what’s up, take it down a notch. He is still staring at the screen saying over gunfire, “I’m savage, you little bitch. Get got.”
Now my wife is saying, “Is he talking to me?”
The other dog, the one that is dying, that is deaf and blind, that seems to live fueled only by appetite, walks through the bedroom, pissing, and then falls down.
“C’mon,” I say, “Let’s go watch the eclipse.”
“Oh, more hell,” my son says.
“Take a picture,” my wife says.
Outside, the moon is burgundy. Just a rim of it glows white. I think, I must stop whatever this is. It’s brazen. I don’t want to be dead, what with the beautiful universe clicking into place, a loving wife, a healthy child, but I’d like to be finished. I can’t tell if the eclipse is starting or ending and I have no access to those feelings right now that might be moved or awed.
Back inside, the dog that is not dying is off the bed and fussing again about the corner by the bathroom in the hallway. He paws at it like he’s seen a ghost. Something must be dead behind that wall. It’s all the dog cares about. The rest of us are just keeping him from it.
My son comes back into our bedroom,.“Top three!” he says. “It’s a calamity that I lost.”
“Are you using that word correctly?” my wife says. She’s removing nail polish. The dog’s pee is cleaned up. She got some towels.
“Its almost bedtime,” I say. “You have piano in the morning.”
“What is this? The Army?” my son says. We were off to a terrific start with him, but now.
“You could benefit from a real, short battle,” my wife says.
The dog that is dying is facing our bedroom mirror, looking dumb. The dog that is not dying has to have its anal glands expressed tomorrow anyway—
The lights go out in my son’s room, though my wife and I both know he keeps playing his game. We don’t say anything to each other about it. If we did, it would ruin us.
“How was the eclipse?” she says.
“When did I get fat?” I say. “It must have happened recently.”
I sit down at my own computer. Someone has mistakenly become my friend and is experiencing and documenting what seems to be a complete mental break. I cannot bring myself to like his posts or to end the friendship.
For instance, he posts, there’s a lunar eclipse and it’s making me rage.
He posts, my boss, that bastardess.
He posts, stop calling for wellness checks, I’m fine.
I fear I hold his life in the balance. He has collected witnesses for something. This whole thing is like being in the audience for a children’s orchestra: cannot laugh or leave.