Tightly Knit

John Stegner

John Stegner

Greg wore dresses alone. They were buried in his closet, so when he arrived home from school and found them scattered over the floor, the family cat sleeping on top of them, he was more than distraught, especially when his sister appeared from the hallway to tell him that she had just had to tell Mom, who was coming home from work early and had called Dad.

“Why do you have these?” she asked, staring at the black evening gown, his favorite.

He said he didn’t know.

“I was vacuuming,” she said. “Mom told me to. I had to tell her. This is weird, Greg.”

He heard his mother needle her key into the lock. She did not drop her purse as her sharp heels punctured the carpeted hallway towards Greg’s room. Without looking at Greg, she placed her phone on his desk, picked up the cat, and walked out.

From the kitchen, he heard, “I want you to take all of these to the garage and photograph them individually. Write how often and where you wore each of them, and send it to the contact Pastor James Law. Be specific.

He could not see through the pile that the kitchen floor was wet, and his fall was barely broken by the fabric. He gathered the scattered dresses quickly while his mother continued skewering carrots and potatoes and raw steak on kabob sticks.

“My god, what is that stain on the yellow one?” she asked as he stood up. “You know what,I won’t ask. Take the pictures. Your father will be home soon.”

Gregory took care hanging each one on his bicycle, placing each sleeve through the handlebars, imagining his own clavicle making the same shape as they did dipping into the front wheel. Once a week, in my room, he texted. The black gown lie gently across the bicycle as the roar of the automatic garage door flooded the room. He did not move as his father’s feet, in black leather shoes, legs in khakis, and arms crossed in a black button-down shirt, appeared.

“What are you doing?” his father asked.

Gregory explained.

“What? You’re doing what?”

Gregory explained again as his father stared at the gown, at the heap of dresses on the floor, and back at the gown again.

“This is pathetic,” he said. “Delete the pictures, for god’s sake, and put the dresses in the shed.”

Gregory did as he was told. His father started up the garage steps into the house.

“Don’t tell Mom.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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