I’m twelve, standing at the base of the stairs in sock feet looking into the family room. I can hear the thrum of the furnace, and I dig my feet into the fibers of the carpet. As quietly as I can, I inch around the corner. My sister and her boyfriend are on the loveseat, and after all this time, that still seems important. The loveseat. I can see the two of them half lying with him on top and her arms stretching and disappearing around his back. His shirt is off, and I wonder if he’s cold. Then he looks at me over the top edge and smiles while he takes her shirt off. The fabric moves slowly like a wisp of summer cloud, until her head is gone, and the rising curtain reveals the two thin lines of her bra taut against the whiteness of her shoulder blades. I see the metal clasps as he separates them, and I feel something. Blood rushes to every part of my body. I watch her back disappear, then her head, then him. I inhale slowly and feel all the blood center in my lungs. For several minutes I don’t move. I close my eyes, turn around, walk quietly upstairs, and sit on the edge of my bed thinking about what happened.
For years after I wouldn’t sit on the loveseat. Eventually my sister moved out and took it with her, leaving the boy and the memories behind. When I was little, I used to sit on it and play Pac-man or watch movies. I jumped off the edge to wrestle with my dad. When I fell asleep watching cartoons late at night, someone would lift me off and carry me to bed. I should feel and smell a thousand of those memories in the fabric. But now, when I sit on a loveseat, I think of my sister and blush.
Scott Zeigler is currently an English and Creative Writing student at the University of Oregon, participating in the Kidd Tutorial, Oregon’s year-long writing workshop for undergraduates. He has been published in the student literary journal Denali and online and The Write Launch.