Home > Without Merit(7)

Without Merit(7)
Author: Colleen Hoover

I open the back door and Wolfgang whimpers once more and then pushes against the screen door until it opens, as if he’s on a mission. I flip on the light to the backyard and watch as Wolfgang descends the steps and rushes through the rain to the doghouse that hasn’t been moved or used since he was evicted by my father years ago.

I want to warn Wolfgang that there could be spiders or other occupants who have since taken over his old residence, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He disappears inside the old doghouse and I watch for a moment to see if he comes running back out, but he doesn’t.

I close the screen door and then the back door and lock the deadbolt. I’ll return him to Pastor Brian in the morning. That is if he doesn’t figure out how to scale the backyard fence and get home on his own.

I make myself a sandwich and turn on the TV but by the time I’m done eating I still haven’t found anything interesting to watch. I slept so long tonight I feel completely energized and I’m hardly even thinking about Honor and her boyfriend. I decide to use my unusual burst of energy to clean my room.

I pop in my headphones and start to clean, but it’s surprising how many songs talk about forbidden love or kissing someone. I change the song every time my mind goes there in hopes it will spark an unrelated memory. I skip songs until I get to Ocean and then I grab an old T-shirt to wipe down all my trophies. Every time I buy a new one I dust them and rearrange them. The new bowling trophy I bought a couple weeks ago will go front and center. I reach to the back of my shelf and grab the football trophy I stole from Drew Waldrup. I set it aside for when I change Jesus Christ’s outfit later tonight.

I spend the next several hours enjoying a house of solitude while everyone sleeps. I take an uninterrupted shower. I watch the first ten minutes of eight different shows on Netflix. I might have an issue with my attention span because I can never make it through an entire show without getting bored. I do one and a half crossword puzzles before I get stumped on a four-letter word for word. When I notice the first tease of sun shining through one of the stained-glass windows, I decide to change Jesus Christ’s clothes before anyone wakes up.

I gather all the stuff I need. Once I have the ladder set up in the living room, I climb it with my stolen football trophy in hand. I slide the roll of tape off my wrist and place the trophy in Jesus’s right hand, then secure it there with the tape. I readjust the cheese-hat on top of His crown of thorns. When I finish, I descend the ladder and stand back to admire my creation.

I normally give Jesus a temporary nickname, depending on the theme of his outfit. Last month, He was referred to as “Holy Ghost” for obvious reasons. And now, considering He is currently dressed as a Packers fan, complete with a home-team jersey, a Wisconsin cheese hat, and now Drew Waldrup’s missing trophy, I think I shall deem Him Cheesus Christ.

“Dad and Victoria are going to be pissed when they see that.”

I turn around and a freshly showered and dressed Honor is staring up at Cheesus. I smile, because that’s precisely why I went through all this effort. My father is a huge Cowboys fan and he’s been talking about tonight’s game between Dallas and Green Bay incessantly. He’s only going to be mad that I dressed Him as a Packers fan.

Victoria, on the other hand, will be mad that I dressed Him at all. Unlike my father, Victoria believes in God. And Jesus. And the sanctity of religion. She hates it when I dress up Jesus. She says it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful.

I disagree. It would be disrespectful if the actual Jesus Christ were in our living room and I forced Him to change clothes all the time. But this Jesus is fake, made out of wood and plastic. I tried to explain that to Victoria. I told her one of the Ten Commandments is not to worship false idols. Dressing this idol of Jesus up for fun, rather than worshipping it, is actually following the commandment.

She didn’t see it that way. But her opposition obviously hasn’t persuaded me to stop.

I grab the ladder and take it back to the garage. Dad should be waking up any minute now, so I get rid of the evidence, even though it’s a given that I’m the only one in the house who makes an effort to dress Jesus Christ anymore. Honor hasn’t seemed to care about eternal life since she became obsessed with the terminally ill a few years ago.

Honor and I may look identical, sound identical, and share identical mannerisms, but we couldn’t be more opposite. Most identical twins finish each other’s sentences, know what each other is thinking, and share common interests. But Honor and I confuse the hell out of each other. We tried our best to live up to the identical twin standard, but once we hit puberty, we just kind of gave up.

Then when she started dating Kirk, his death put an even bigger wedge between us because up until that point, we had experienced almost everything together. But after Kirk died, she had experienced things I hadn’t. Being in love, losing her virginity, experiencing grief. We no longer felt like we were on the same level after that. Or at least she felt she was on a different level than me. And the more time that passes, the more we drift apart.

I walk back into the kitchen from the garage and my steps falter at the sight of Sagan.

His back is to me as he sits at our kitchen table. In our house. At a highly inappropriate time of day. Who visits their girlfriend at seven in the morning? He’s becoming a constant fixture in Dollar Voss, which makes me feel less and less envious of my sister every time he chooses to be here. Who in their right mind would willingly return to this house? Has he not met my family? Is he that blinded by his unrequited love for Honor?

He’s hunched over, focused intently on his sketch pad in front of him. When I realized he actually was an artist, I laughed at my luck. I had hoped he was an artist right before he kissed me, but it’s only fitting that the more I’m around him, the more perfect he seems. It’s karma for being attracted to my twin sister’s boyfriend.

Moby walks into the kitchen and shuffles over to the table. Moby is quite possibly the only part of this family that brings me joy, but four-year-olds are fairly liked across the board. There’s still plenty of time for Moby to disappoint me.

“Morning, buddy.” Sagan ruffles Moby’s hair, but Moby is not a morning person, despite his age. He shifts his head away and climbs into the seat next to him. Sagan tears off a sheet of blank paper from the sketchbook he’s been hunched over. He slides the piece of paper in front of Moby and plucks a crayon out of a basket in front of him, winning Moby over instantly. There isn’t a four-year-old on earth who doesn’t love a crayon and a sheet of paper. Moby is always trying to copy the things Honor’s boyfriend sketches. Which is humorous considering the morbid themes her boyfriend is always sketching. Just yesterday I found a picture he sketched of Honor. She was sitting in an empty grave, putting on lipstick. On the back, he had written “Till death do us part.”

I never know what any of his drawings mean, but they fascinate me. I just don’t want him to know that. I also don’t want him to know that every time he draws a sketch for Honor and she leaves it lying around like it doesn’t even mean anything to her, I steal it. I have several of his drawings now, wrapped in a bathrobe and stuffed in the bottom of my dresser drawer. Sometimes I look at them and pretend they’re pictures of me and not Honor.

I’m sure the one he’s sketching now will end up at the bottom of my drawer as well because Honor doesn’t appreciate the artistic side of him.

Moby glances at me and covers his mouth with his hand, mumbling something intended for only me to hear. He always puts his hand flat over his mouth when he’s telling someone a secret, rather than cupping his hand around his mouth. It’s so adorable, we don’t have the heart to tell him we can never understand a word he’s saying. But I don’t have to understand him because I know exactly what he’s asking for.

I wink at him and grab the box of donuts from the top of the refrigerator. There are two left in the box, so I put one in my mouth and walk the other one to Moby. He takes the donut from my hand and immediately crawls under the table to eat it. I don’t even have to tell him to go hide from his mother. He already knows that anything that tastes good to him is off-limits to Victoria.

“You realize you’re teaching him to hoard junk food, right?” Utah enters the kitchen in his usual holier-than-thou mood. “If he grows up to be morbidly obese, it’s your fault.”

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