Michelle Reale

He drove up the driveway fast and stopped with a screech right before he hit the garage door.
The corpse of our heater laid on the concrete slab which made up our backyard. Uncle Jimmy came to haul it away. "Dad's not home," I told him. "I'll wait," he said.

The sky threatened rain, the air thick with humidity. My uncle lit a cigarette with a dirty book of matches, leaned against the truck. He looked at the sky, then at me. He frowned like I was to blame for what he didn't find there.
My jean shorts cut into my chubby thighs. My "Cutie Pie" t-shirt showed my bra. Uncle Jimmy noticed. He smoked four cigarettes passing the time. We did not speak.

On Sunday nights at my grandmother's house, cigarettes after the heavy meal. Ashes were tipped into the remains. Character assassination would begin, the worst for Uncle Jimmy. Mother called my father's brother "fairy Mary." She was wrong.

Uncle Jimmy threw a half-smoked cigarette down on the ground. He rubbed his hands impatiently on his jeans, beat out a tune on his thighs and walked toward me. I moved backwards; fell into the rusty sheet metal. Blood trickled into my sneaker. My uncle stopped moving. My Dad was home.

My father mopped his neck with a yellowed handkerchief, asked me where my mother was. I shrugged. He placed a rough hand on his brother's shoulder and glanced at my ankle.

Uncle Jimmy laughed hard, his thick yellow tongue vibrated. My father moved away from him, but not toward me.
"Clumsy kid you got there," he said, like it was all he knew about me.