Only the Worms Know

Avra Margariti

Every morning when I wake up, I lean out my window to say hello to Mom. She doesn’t reply, but that’s okay. She never was a good listener, even before she was buried in our backyard.

My brother Dill plays there most afternoons. When other kids his age run to the playground after school, shrieking and chasing each other like little monkeys, he always comes straight home to me. He’s a loner like his sister, and I’m a little bit proud of that.

Wildflowers sprout from the bumpy soil where Mom sleeps. I’d like to picture them emerging from her eyes and hands and heart; those flowers will be the only beautiful things Mom’s given birth to other than Dylan-Dyl-Dill, but that image is all wrong. I know for a fact she’s buried face down. The closest thing to a flower is her caved-in skull. The blood blossomed there like nothing I’d ever seen.

Dill doesn’t know he’s running above his mother’s body, just like she used to trample all over us. I sit on the back porch and watch him care for his worm farm. The little writhy creatures flourish under his five-year-old fingers. Sometimes I like to imagine he tells those worms secrets, and they crawl to Mom’s empty ears, whispering them back.

She’s jealous when she learns how happy we’ve been without her. The worms say I’m much better than she’d ever been, anyway. I sign my brother’s notes from school, tuck him in, feed him his greens, Dill Pickle, here comes the airplane.

Dill runs up to me. I ruffle his hair and give him a glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade. He sits on my lap and drinks it while we look out at our backyard.

I ask him, “Aren’t we happy?”

He nods his head with vigor.

The worms nod too.

Avra Margariti is an author, queer activist, and Social Work student from Greece.