“Rot propagates rot,” Grandma recites, pouring bleach into the washbasin. She prods at my appearance via veiled chatter while we scrub mildewed window frames. Mom comes home bubbling over with a story about a neighbour’s divorce. Her recounting ties judgement and fear into neat knots that strangle the details. I escape to the bathroom and frown at my hunched posture. Fragments like “You have to be so careful with—” and “Some women just don’t—” crawl down the hall and wriggle under the bathroom door. Senses freshly sharpened, I spot creeping patches of black embroidering the edge of the window behind me.
By Rachel Miller