A Journal Entry Describing My Family

| FROM THE MUSE | BY AUDREY WHITE | MAY, 2013 |

I am half a boy and half a bird. My single wing is not enough to let me fly. It just flaps listlessly at my side as I struggle to write with my clumsy right arm. I was left-handed.

The Creator, or the Perverter, as I call him, rummages through his drawer of frogs and mice, searching for that perfect pair of legs. Somewhere—it’s France, I think—frog legs are a delicacy. I usually don’t see the appeal, but I think I could go for some frog legs right now. But these are not for eating: they are for one of those poor mice. He doesn’t create edible things.

My sister, the mermaid, lies on the table, gasping. She is so small I can lift her with one arm. She flails and whacks her tail—which, I think, was once part of a trout—against the table, as if to say “something is wrong.” I think she’s hungry too. The old clock in the hallway tolls nine times. I try to make my voice sound reassuring. “Just give me a minute, Nora. We’ll find you something.” Dinner should’ve been hours ago, but today we forgot.

The old man notices her thrashing and scribbles something on a scrap of paper. “She needs dinner” I tell him. I am not usually so brusque, but he hardly listens to me, so I have to make every word count. And he’s done nothing to deserve my civility. He ignores me and goes on with his work. I will have to make dinner again.

We don’t cook or eat in the kitchen—not since he made it such a mess. He replaced the silverware with scalpels, the dishes with clips and surgical scissors, and covered every surface with pages and pages of notes. Buried in the papers are a few oddities: a silver cross, a paperback copy of Frankenstein, and a sewing kit that once belonged to my mother.

I retrieve the can of split pea soup I hid under the floorboards last week. I have no way of heating it, but Nora says she prefers it cold. I take a couple spoons and bowls out of the medicine cabinet. I don’t spill any of the soup this time, so there is enough to fill both bowls: probably more than Nora will eat and enough for me.

I set a bowl in front of Nora. She smiles up at me, “Tankyoo.” As I watch her spoon the soup into her mouth, spilling a little on the table, I wonder if eating is painful for her. I know breathing is; her lungs and her gills don’t mesh together, and I think she’s supposed to be able to breathe in the water. Once, I thought filling up the bathtub and putting her in would make it better; she nearly drowned.