The Slide: A Novel

The Slide: A Novel by Kyle Beachy Read Free Book Online

Book: The Slide: A Novel by Kyle Beachy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kyle Beachy
have. My family, Potter. My life. I don’t know why. Please don’t make me say why or how or what. I’m sorry, lover. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
    I open her door and scream into the hallway, “Evil!”
    Shapeless colors behind shut eyes, rage. Slammed the door twice and stared. She sat still, legs crossed, breathing through her nose. Same spot in the middle of the bed, she hadn’t moved. Oh, she waved a hand and shook her head, her face twisted into some highly specific version of grief tempered by dismay at my invasion of privacy. The pressure at the base of my throat, rage, my esophagus massaging a swallowed mouse, and I could imagine my own face’s exact mixture, rage castrated by immoral symmetry, and all I wanted was for the world to be angry, purely and simply.
    And so I told her.
    “You FUCK,” she yelled, and now she stood and pointed and repeated her charge for some time. I began slamming her door again. Soon she dropped the you, leaving only a series of fuck s ringing over the sound of the door.
    “You!” I reminded her. “You! You!”
    Before I could begin a fourth lap I was stopped by a series of white arcs drawn in the neighbors’ yard, dozens of unfurled white banners. They came from nowhere and trailed across house and grass, up into and through trees. I inched forward and saw dark figures moving efficiently through the lawn, launching rolls of toilet paper into the air, waiting, then launching them again. I admired their stealth. When my friends and I had done this, noise had always been our downfall. We could never suppress the hubbub of mischief and adolescent nerves. These kids were silent. Determined. The prank had evolved, grown more severe, and I was relieved to see it in such capable hands.
    At some point that night at school, when we were too tired to go on, all the fuck and you s changed to sorry . It made sense; the fight was doomed from the start, constrained and defeated by its own parameters. We screamed and screamed, then crumpled on the bed like two dirty tissues. For a while, neither of us was willing to make a move. Then I touched a single finger to one of her toes.
    “I am,” I said. “I am sorry.”
    “Now what?” she asked. “What’s left? Who’s the asshole?”
    “Come here. Just here.”
    “No. No. You come here,” she said. “You come closer.”
    One of the teenagers spotted me and communicated with the others in a signal I didn’t catch, but slowly the rolls of toilet paper came to rest. There were only four of them, four boys, though with their efficiency it had seemed twice as many. They exchanged nervous looks and it occurred to me that they’d come here because of the youngest Hoyne, the neighbor daughter who by now must have been in high school. I approached the closest kid and saw a face equal parts wholesome rebellion and magnificent fear. For a second I seriously considered punching him, to see if the other three would rush to his aid and beat me enough that I’d finally get some rest. The kid breathed loudly through a mouth ruled by braces. I reached out and we engaged in a prolonged handshake, long enough that by its end rolls of toilet paper flew again, leaving hygienic white trails that scaled trees and striped across the yard. I crossed back to my parents’ driveway and sat with my back against a tire of the 4Runner, hoping the kids would keep going through the night.
    The lack of worthwhile rest began to complicate my interactions with the world. At times I delved into a fugue state and corners went fuzzy, objects floated by with no apparent destination. I grew suspicious of just about everything, including the queasy awareness that somebody knew me well enough to forecast within seconds when I’d want to eat breakfast. I began instituting little tests of my mother’s timing. One morning I stalled upstairs after brushing my teeth. This was no problem for her. The following morning I essentially sprinted from my bed to the kitchen,

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