I don’t leave the doorway. I am waiting for a dog or a cat or even a bird to blow my cover. I am waiting for my eyes to find the couch. I am waiting for the stairs to creak and I am facing the front windows, open slightly, to let what tiny bit of light is to be found outside in but I will paint a picture: I’m in a pitch-dark tomb. I take one step forward with my right foot and count seconds in my head to keep focus and see how long it takes me to move. When the heel begins to lift, I count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, before the heel is back down again. Then the left foot, try to get it one second less: 1, 2, 3, 4 because I am being reasonable and know that I will have to walk into the house freely. I am finding my footing. I am catching my breath.

This is a game I used to play as a child with my older brother and his friends.  The game was called “Dark” where everyone hid and the counter had to walk through the pitch black house waiting to be scared. It wasn’t like hide and seek because the goal wasn’t to find the others, but to not scream.

“You always scream!” Alex would taunt me.

“No, I don’t, let me try again.”
I would pull on his shirt and chase him all day so that when Edwin and Tyson came over, I was introduced as the fourth player. Relentless. That’s the word I was looking for earlier. It is an unrelentingness that allows people to survive in these kind of hardships. Pleasure is removed it is about ardor. We are surviving merely to prove that we can and for no other reason than that is all there is to do now. Stand without concession. 1, 2, 3. Heel hits the floor. I had another motive. I was trying to find them. I was giving myself time to see in the dark. I was giving myself room to hear them breathe or squirm or fuck up completely and knock something on the floor. 1, 2, 3 other heel hits the floor. My fingers traced the edge of the island just to keep center. I was in the middle of it, close to the edge and in my house, the drawers were on the other side. In my house, when I am prepared which I wasn’t often,  batteries existed in that drawer. My left hand stayed on the top of the island and I turned my body towards the fridge letting my right hand glide down and towards the right feeling for a handle and being greeted by flat, wooden paneling. I was right.

I begin the ballet around the island but am stopped when I realize I have been hearing a steady buzz coming from upstairs this whole time. Buzz means electricity. Electricity means heater. The steps are to my left. The master bedroom is upstairs and to the left. My body is already moving at a faster pace: 1,2 heel drops, 1,2, other heel drops. This is what confidence does: propels. The last thing I need is a mistake. Not only am I lined with knives in an obsidian colored house whose layout and obstacles are foreign to me but I could use the self esteem boost given the circumstances.
“We are having a no mistake day.”
I say it under my breath, soft,  barely audible but but I say it out loud nonetheless so I know it is heard.

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