The Ritual
by Corey Cook

On nights he mixed his drinks with carpenter pencils and wrenches
in the shed mother would shoo us from the house. We would scamper
across the street to Auntie Maureen’s. Slip into our aunt’s bed. Under

layers and layers of quilts as she drew the shades on the windows
facing our house and hummed nervously. We would wake to heaps
and heaps of pancakes, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. Skip back home

to find mother emerging from their bedroom. Wearing slacks and a turtle
neck. A scarf around her head and lots and lots of cover up. She would
stand there and smile – blotting out the man sleeping in the bed behind her.

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