Back in the break room we talked about babysitters. / by D.M. Jerman

He and his brother had one that tortured them, threatening to slit their throats and who he one day "moon"d. This gained him little favor, but made him feel better.

I don't tell him about "Sayword R.", the 16 year old Pittsburgh suburbanite with the weird name and fascination with our Michael Jackson's Thriller record. Her penchant for following me around and into the garage, only to catch me eating chocolate covered pretzels out of the deep freeze which, in the morning, I'd discovered she finished off.
I was twelve at the time and she didn't look much older than me. This caused some resentment, of course.
She went on to total the family car and probably have a bunch of her own obnoxious children. Such is life.

However, I do confess Veronica. Who is, after all, the best and most important one.
The first night she was over one of my parents homemade wine bottles exploded all over the kitchen. She spent half the night cleaning it up and was mortified.
Later, she would bring over "Joey" from time to time. Her scummy dago boyfriend. Sometimes her younger brother Allen would babysit when she was unavailable. Allen was 17 or 18 at this point and kind of cute and I'd woo him with my parents rock record collection. He lamented that we didn't own Pink Floyd's "The Wall".

Veronica's smile and spirit and laugh were infectious. She told us about a class trip to Spain- Valladolid. She had asthma real bad and wheezed. She chewed gum occasionally. She may have had freckles.
When she was younger she hallucinated snakes and spiders on some shitty allergy medication and feared them interminably.
I saw her one afternoon, over in her tiny room in her family's trailer, trying on for me her royal blue satin prom dress with the gold chain for the strap. Her firery red hair flowing past those same pale shoulders. I thought I was looking up at the queen of all my dreams.

And finally the blow of her last visit. The last one I remember.
I am much older. My mother has asked her over for some reason, to give her something maybe. Or she is in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by.
I am excited to see her. But the wind goes out of my sails as soon as I do.
She is massive. She has blown up in size to rival that of her mother. Well over 200 pounds. Maybe she is pregnant too. On top of all this, she has a blonde 2-3 year old boy in tow. I feel insulted by this entire scenario. The boy pounds on our piano and wants his mother's attention constantly while she's talking with my mother, which my mother tolerates as she gives it to him. No discipline. I observe all this, and I guess that's what I see.
There seem to be a bunch of icky feelings I was wrestling with at that moment.
I took Veronica to be much prettier than fat. I didn't think she deserved it. I thought she'd go on to travel some more and take over the world. Proof that I could get out of here and do the same thing.

It doesn't matter. People can't get away from their families, and they want what they want.

Wherever she is now, I just hope she's happy. And healthy.