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SEEING THINGS /Abigail Thomas IT IS THE TERRIBLE summer we aU go crazy. Uncle Peach has offed himself and I now sleep in my clothes. Maybe we hardly knew him, but his blood runs in our veins. There is lunacy in this famUy and I feel too pecuUar in my floaty nightgown. I know I am a chUd, but I am a tall chUd, and chUdren can go crazy too. Look at Lizzie Borden. "Lizzie Borden was an adult," my mother informs me, her words hard to make out with the toothbrush in her mouth. She spits into the sink. We are nearing the moment I dread the most. In a matter of minutes she wül be lying in her bed, fast asleep, utterly helpless. At the mercy of someone who might be a complete maniac. It is not normal to fear sleepwalking. It is not normal to think I wUl rise in the night and stab my mother to death with the barbecue fork. "Relax," says my mother, without a backward glance. "TU hear you coming." This is not reassuring. My mother is not a dumbbell, but nurture is not her middle name. When I grow up, I plan to hit the road. I wUl travel the world, and Uve by my wits, and never have any chUdren of my own. I can hardly wait. Meanwhile, I am stuck here with my mother and my sister Maude. I never feel Uke kilUng Maude, thank goodness, I don't know why. She is my older sister, nearly fifteen. I cUmb into bed with Maude when mother's Ught goes out. Maude protects me with her normal wholesome snores. Her great ambition is to be whistled at on the street. Above her bed, taped to the ceUing, is her poster of Hawaü, HawaU From the Air. She likes to Ue on her back and pretend she is coming in for a landing. She plans to Uve in HawaU some day. Poor Maude. She wUl be surrounded by nincompoops in flowered shirts. She wUl find pineapple in aU her food. She does not care. Maude wants to be tan the whole year round. She wants to wear a hula skirt and do the hula dance. I myself wiU visit the medieval cities of Europe. Cracow. Dubrovnik. Prague. I am a more serious person and was born with a melancholy soul. Maude is sick in bed and bored to death. Last Tuesday she came into the kitchen wearing only her slip. "Look at this interesting bone," she said, and pointed to her shoulder. My mother dropped the plates she was carrying and they smashed to the floor. You 16 · The Missouri Review could see Maude's bones sticking out aU over the place. You could see her ribs from the back. She looked Uke a skeleton. "Jesus Christ," shrieked our mother, as if this were aU Maude's fault, "What are you doing to yourself, Maude? Jesus fucking Christ!" Mother's face had gone aU pink and then aU white. "Don't say 'fucking'!" I screamed at her, and pretty soon Maude was crying and yeUing, "There's nothing wrong with me, Tm sorry I even mentioned it!" But none of us could move: we were aU barefoot and the broken plates were on the floor and we could only lean toward each other screaming from our fixed positions. FinaUy I instructed Mother and Maude to cUmb up on chairs and I managed to clear a path with wet paper towels. I am the one who perfected this technique, although you can never get it aU up. We wiU be stepping on glass forever from time to time. It turns out Maude has chicken pox, which is very embarrassing for Maude. The doctor said she should sleep in the back room where it is quiet. She wants me to bring her lipstick and mirror from the salle de bain. "You look fine," I say. "You Ue Uke a rug," says Maude. She has a cute doctor and she wants to look her best morning, noon and night in spite of everything. "Bring me the Erace," commands Maude. "You've got to be...


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