I remember sneaking up on him, crawling across the nappy green carpet in my scratchy nightgown. Sometimes staples stick up from hidden ridges and prick my knees. The carpet is green and smooshed like fields after a storm, with mysterious, stitched rivers dividing the landmasses. I crawl to the end table that’s dull and sticky. Two owls with glassy, yellow eyes sit on their perch, holding up the dingy lampshade. A glass ashtray takes up the rest of the room. I watch his profile as he smiles and talks with his brother–my new uncle–who sits among empty beer cans on the other side of the dim living room. They’re talking with words I don’t quite understand. He laughs, so I laugh. I like his dimples. I like everything about this strange, new character. We’re learning how to spell his last name. He wants us.
He hears me laugh and slowly turns an annoyed, oily face in my direction. My hair is still wet from the tub. He puffs a large cloud of cigarette smoke into my shiny face. They laugh. I cough and laugh, too. They keep talking. It means go away.