by Yash Seyedbagheri

I see rage in every pause, a chill in distant glances.

They’re just distracted, tired, Mama and sister Nan say. They say I’m creative, lovable. They promise, promise, promise.

But in their actions, I see Dad’s mustache, long gone, hissing with transgressions. Walk straight, tuck your shirt, be confident, As, not Bs, you’re emotional. I tiptoed, marched, studied, cursed him out. Words still slithered and bit, a thousand raw bites tinged with his Old Spice.

I soothe myself with Nan’s smile, Mama’s laugh. Try to relax when they hug or tease.

But I still look beneath smiles. Something’s always hiding.

Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s M.F.A. program in fiction. His stories “Soon,” “How To Be A Good Episcopalian,” and “Tales From A Communion Line” were nominated for Pushcarts. His work has been published in or is forthcoming from SmokeLong Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Ariel Chart, among other publications.