Frustration and pain and love linger. They gather in hearts and minds and memories. They gather in shadows and crevices.

Families are like expectations: circular. Lingering emotions whisper in their ears, tell them what to see.

Responses are habitual.

Emotions are tangible, like heat or wind or a scent — they seep into the floor, the walls, the furniture. As you step into the house, a visitor, you will feel it: a miasma of sensation.

What you feel is me.

When the family fights and shouts, I slam doors, flip cupboard doors open, throw out clothing. Their emotions coalesce. They blame each other for my acts, for their acts.

I grow.

They love. They’re tender. They understand something of pain. Relief mingles, mixes into the edges, slips between.

I grow, reshape. Lights flicker, circuit breakers spark and trip.

Using love, fingers are pointed.

“It’s just puberty.”

“You’re a bad mom.”

“You’ll understand when you grow up.”

I hide, I wait, motionless. They have suspicions, and I don’t want to be a target of their fear and anger — if there is movement in the house, it is not mine.

They circle each other, grow around and with and apart — eventually they move on. I am left alone, myself, a home of emotional detritus and harm and half forgotten loves.

I finally breathe easy.

No one visits. After time, I wonder: are their others like me? Others not like them?

Is it time to not be hidden?