Everything is Broken

The whole family is awake at the same time this morning, for some reason. Everyone in the kitchen, dazedly trying to figure out breakfast, where do we keep coffee, is the oven on or not, when the youngest child, the son, looks out the window and realizes a nuclear missile has landed in their backyard. It didn’t explode, just fell and broke into 3 pieces, but there’s a neighbor kid throwing rocks at it, which won’t help matters. The father yells out the window for the boy to come away from there and stop that, then rubs his head as he stares around the kitchen, shouldn’t he worry about finishing the coffee first before we start trying to figure out everything else and what to do about it.

Then the middle child, a daughter, is looking in the refrigerator and notices that the peanut butter is leaking. And should the peanut butter even be in the refrigerator in the first place, is another question. But it’s leaking from the bottom, there’s a gloopy pool of it forming on the bottom shelf, the consistency is all wrong, but anyway she picks up the jar and can’t find any holes in it, and yet it still seems to be leaking, right through the plastic.

She hands it to her father, who turns the jar over to examine the bottom but is looking out the window at the broken missile in the backyard. Well, he says, I think these things are related somehow. He pauses for a second, and this is a family of scientists, no strangers to solving complex problems, so the orders he gives are followed without comment. He hands the peanut butter to his wife and says I need you to examine this under a microscope, see what you can find. I’m going out to have a look at that missile. You kids get cleaned up and ready to go, and the family disperses.

The middle daughter is in the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror. She has a q-tip in her hand, which for some reason won’t fit into either of her ears. It feels too frayed and nondefinite. Her older sister, Jana, is behind her in the shower, only Jana hasn’t closed the shower curtain the whole way, so anyone can see right in. Jana, the middle girl begins, but Jana cuts her off with Don’t worry about it.

Jana’s boyfriend comes into the bathroom and proceeds directly to the closet, where he starts digging around on the shelves, looking for something. Jana, the middle girl says, he’s going to see you naked.

So what, comes the reply.

But you haven’t even had sex yet, have you?

The middle girl looks at the boyfriend, who quickly looks back into the closet and busies himself again. She keeps watching him. There’s something wrong about the way he moves. He’s a liar.

No, Jana says, but we will soon, probably.

The middle girl keeps staring at the boy, realizes she’s in her sister’s dream, that the boy has done something to Jana which Jana can’t or won’t remember, and that this is why nothing has made sense all day, and might never again.