When we lived in the trailer, Santa came in through the clothes dryer. Later, when we had a brick house, a brown-winged owl dropped down the chimney where the cook stove used to be and beat his way in while we watched TV in the dark. We ran him out the door with the broom.


This house had a room with two doors, a dining room or my bedroom. We could run in a circle through the house—kitchen, dining room or my bedroom, hall, living room, kitchen—though with more trouble once there was furniture. The bedroom locks were easily picked with a nail.


The bathroom heat vent carried arguments from the kitchen and living room to our feet. Sometimes two days in a row I’d wrap my math book in my pajamas and run the shower while I multiplied and divided against the edge of the sink. We were taught to shake our shoes for the scorpions. Sometimes we stuck our hands inside instead.


At night, I’d lie down to sleep with the radio on. When we’d moved in, we’d painted the windows shut, and we never fixed them.




Jennifer Gravley makes her way in Columbia, Missouri. She is a writer of sentences, a watcher of bad television, and a reference and instruction librarian. Her work has recently appeared in North American Review, Heron Tree, and Sweet, among others.