When your cousin you barely know texts you from somewhere in Florida, asking you to call her transitional housing facility and tell them she is moving in with you and your family so they’ll give her money to leave the state, and you want to take her in and let her sleep on your couch in Brooklyn, but you know she’ll never leave it and she’s obviously having one of her episodes your stepmother has warned you she tends to have, and you know you’re probably the last person on a long list of people she has contacted and that the state of Florida is madly trying to pay off its homeless population to leave, and a secret part of you doesn’t want your own daughters to bear witness to her condition. And then you think about the fact that she never knew her father, your father’s brother, until she was a teenager, and you remember when she first came into your family, picking her up at the airport in Kansas City, and she was so happy to see you, a stranger to her, then dropping her off after she spent a week getting to know her father—how she hugged you and wouldn’t let go until you pushed her away, how she asked you to stay in sight until she boarded the plane, how she kept looking back and waving as she went through security, how she looked at you when she was in line to board, even as she had her ticket stamped and boarded the plane back to wherever she stayed in Chicago. She seemed, then as now, a fragment of a person, a derelict seed never planted, and every now and then, in your dreams, you see her or someone who looks like her waving sadly at you from a distance, and you wake up and yell, waking your wife yet again.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor