[tender]

Outside of the red house he tips his head back and scratches his neck while looking up at the leaves. The wooden table is shaped like an oversized spool. I read from the last Harry Potter book, desperate to finish it as quickly as possible. We don’t have much to talk about, not on this day or any day, but we keep each other company in silence. This is the summer after I graduated college. When I finish my internship at a newspaper, I hope to find a job in Pittsburgh, the next closest city to my hometown.  He was only really kind to us–my mother, sisters, and I–once the cancer was untreatable. He planted a garden this last year, small but tilled and maintained by his hand. When I talk about him now, it’s to reference the booze and abuse. But you should know he could be tender in his own way.

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