greetings from my boyfriend’s computer. He’s upstairs going to bed and I’m as awake as a person who got 8 hours sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. Except it’s 2am and I’ve been awake for hours and I’m miles away from refreshed. but I dunno, my current outlook feels refreshing I suppose. This keyboard feels foreign, but they are all the same when it comes down to it. My knuckles are sore and almost bruised, because I spent like 3 hours yesterday playing punch the ball. Punch the ball is a game i made up yesterday while visiting my parents’ house and hanging out in their garage. My brother was working on his truck and I was vaguely helping him and hanging out in the garage with him and my dad for most of the day. there is a tennis ball on a string hanging from the garage rafters, constructed years ago as a guide for parking a car so it fit just right. But that was my brother’s old car and he doesn’t live there anymore and the ball is superfluous.  but we were there and as he worked on his truck I talked to him and handed him tools and punched the tennis ball, hitting it in a perfect arch, so that it would swing back and meet the knuckles of my other hand. again and again and again and it was satisfying in that hard to quantify way. I didn’t even realize they were hurt until I stopped for a while, and they began to softly throb. But that doesn’t matter. It’s all nothing and nowhere and I wonder what the review board is thinking about my writing sample. We shot BB guns in the backyard. Waiting for my brother’s car to cool off so he could start his work, him and my dad and I. We killed cans and cups and an empty box of chocolates. My father is good at shooting things. He got his first real gun at 13. He shot a squirrel in a tree and it looked him in the eye and asked him “why?” and he never killed again. But he is a better shot than my brother and I combined, he takes down all the cans and the cup bleeds water all over the rocks beneath. And he shows us how to do it better. How to aim and how to breathe and when to squeeze the trigger. I hit three of four targets in a row, then miss the last one twice. “I can’t do it” I say, trying to hand him the Daisy Red Ryder, but he shakes his head. “brace yourself. Take a deep breath, aim, breathe out and when half of your breath is gone squeeze the trigger.” I do it and the can makes a *tink* as it falls from its perch. “you murdered that can.” he says to me, with a smile that I know means he is proud. Hours later, my brother is almost done with his car work, and my mom comes home. We hang out in the garage, all doors wide open to vent the terrible burnt rubber smell of transmission fluid. I make her play punch the ball with me as we talk and watch my brother put the new fluid into his truck, but she is really bad at it. She can’t make the ball go in an arch, can’t make it swing back and hit the knuckles of her other hand. So I make a new game where we make the ball go in a circle between us, gently nudging it to keep the momentum going. She is sparking and glowing but tired after driving two and a half hours home by herself. She tells us about her accomplishments, getting her and my father’s rental property ready for guests. She tells us the things she did to keep herself alert for the drive home, the landmarks she marked and the songs she wrote. We eat dinner together, and talk, and they are happy and it is nice. When my brother and I are getting ready to leave, she says “I’m glad I came home in time to see you guys! You’re so awesome!” “pshhh, naw, you’re awesome” I say. “no, you guys are so great.” she says. “well, you made us” my brother and I say in unison. We look at each other and start laughing out of control. we hug both our parents, and we go home.


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