My mom and her husband are doing it in her bedroom. I listen to her bedsprings squeak and their hushed, heavy breathing. I need to pee, but if I get up they’ll hear me, and that sudden, conscious silence would be worse than the sound of chimp squeals and hyperventilation muffled by our hollow bedroom doors and the three feet of hallway in between. At least she’s not screaming, Oh, God, like I’ve seen in movies. I chew the slippery skin on the inside of my mouth and wonder if it’s still a sin to take the Lord’s name in vain during sex, or if then, it is like a prayer.
It is Terrance’s first night out. For two years my mom has saved her nice voice for his collect calls, driven the hour and a half to Vacaville every Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning to see him, waited expectantly for his twenty-page letters full of shaded hearts pierced with arrows, poems wrought with adolescent angst, and fantasies I can never, ever, repeat out loud. His dark penciled writing is frilly with curled loops and a childlike slant. I only read the letters because Jaime made me. “Why would he want her to do that thing with the marshmallows?” she asked after she found the envelopes, dozens of them, in a pile under our mom’s nightstand. I told her I’d rather not think about it.