We played hide-and-go-seek in each other’s homes: dinner parties, backyard barbecues, white elephant gift exchanges. We’d steal bits of towering deserts, macarons and crème brûlée coating our teeth as we sipped the forgotten, half-drunk remains of Rosé left from our parents, counting to twenty while we scattered like leaves, making our way to the dark corners, the closets, behind the wall of shoes and thick wool coats. We inhaled musty decades of moth-eaten furs from animals that once roamed a forest, hiding in trees and bushes until plucked by a trapper, skinned and sold to adorn the delicate shoulders of the elite, until the appearance of a conscious wore better. We’d pet rabbit and mink waiting in the dark, poor thing, poor thing, listening to footsteps and breathing, our heartbeats drumming.
We liked being hunted, but sometimes if we hid too well, we’d be forgotten in our tight spaces, our bored hands reaching for the secrets of our parents: letters from old lovers, stacks of porn, the weight of guns. Because we folded easily, contorting our bodies until small and invisible, we’d hear their slurs, drunk off gin and vodka martinis, hear the shake and stir, the two olives straight up, the dirty and neat. Hear their affairs over the rattle of ice, their whispers down the halls as we watched them stumble hand in hand like mismatches pairs. A door closing, a lock clicking, the youngest of us holding her breath under a bed that moaned and squeaked.
We’d exchange stories in the basement to declare a winner. Celebrate with stolen bottles of Jack, matching their longing and restlessness—repulsed by them; in awe of them—vowing to be different even as we held the stems of cocktail glasses between our fingers, furs around our necks, revolvers in our hands.
We were the kids of doctors and lawyers, judges and future politicians, people use to making the rules, so we made our own. Magazines out, shot glass in front. Drink, peek, and fire an empty chamber aimed up at the ceiling creaking above us, guessing our parents’ footfalls.
We heard them ask: Where are the kids?
Playing, someone yelled and laughed. Let them play!