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©2019 by Prometheus Dreaming

A Family Tradition

by Piper Augspurger

Here is a list of things that must be done or else everyone will die and the world will end and it will be your fault:

  1. If you say or think something that you need to come true, or not come true, depending on the comment or thought, you must form a fist with your right hand and tap it against your right thigh in the middle three times.  This also applies to things others say that you don’t want jinxed. If you mess up the first three “knocks” you must do the action a second time, which cancels out the first, and then a third time to right the wrong.  

  2. The volume must be on an even number.

  3. When walking next to a person and the two of you separate to go around an object, mouth the words “bread and butter.”

  4. Lock the car twice.  

  5. In the morning, take the pills in this order:  the blue goes in your mouth first, followed by the yellow, then the big orange, then the little orange.  Swallow those four at once. Then comes the big red, the small red, and the white round. If it’s a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, also take the tan capsule.  Swallow. Then take the horse sized pill on its own.  

  6. In the evening, take the pills in this order:  the orange and green pill, then the small orange one.  Swallow these two. Then the three liquid filled yellow pills at once.  Swallow. The white pill cut in half is taken alone. Place it on your tongue so that the jagged edge faces the roof of your mouth.  Swallow. Finally, the oblong off-white pill, then the round white pill, then the smallest white pill. Swallow. If a new medication is added, it will be sent to the end of the order.  

  7. If there are two doors side by side, the right one must be opened first. 

  8. When ordering food at Texas Roadhouse, first say “Six ounce sirloin, medium rare.”  Then continue with “Green beans and mashed potatoes with brown gravy.”  

  9. Don’t let your food touch other food on the plate.  

  10. The thermostat must be an even number.  

  11. When feeding the dogs, one must follow a specific order.  Tucker’s food is put out first, by using the clear scoop to fill the white scoop, and then another half cup added into the clear scoop.  Ellie eats second, in the same manner. Then Gitli, food transported in the fourth of a cup scoop. Casey eats next, in a similar fashion.  Gravy eats last, from the clear scoop. 

  12. The soap should be closest to the sink and located on the right side of the faucet.  

  13. Eat your food in accordance to least favorite first, and favorite last.  

  14. When typing, two spaces go after a period.  The font must be Times New Roman and the size, if an essay or story, must be twelve and double spaced.  

  15. Never open an umbrella under a roof.  

  16. If a lid is taken off and has writing on it, it must be put back on in such a way so that the writing lines up with the front of the container.  

These are a few of the rules that we must follow.  

You see, this is a family tradition.  I don’t like to see it passed down, but it is most inevitably handed from one member to the other.  We keep baskets of black woolen socks in the bedroom. We double check, triple check, five six seven eight times check the locks.  If something is messed up, do it two more times. I have my own list, just as my father has his own, and even my dearest little cousin.  She hops in a specific way when coming out of the door. Her twin must always sit on a certain end of the couch. I see their faces in my own when I look in the mirror; there’s the bedtime routines, each a rigid structure.  I don’t know how I know, but I know that none of us can fall asleep without washing our faces thoroughly.  

We don’t make these rules, these rules make us.  It piles up until there is an overwhelming amount of things we have to do just to keep from exploding.  There are other people out there like us, and together we keep our respective worlds turning. It’s tiring and the rewards are slim.  Some go off and try to break their so called habits. What happens to them? We don’t know yet. Some believe that their minds implode, others think that they fall off the edge of humanity.  Mostly I think that their lives get easier through hard work to stop themselves from working harder.   

There are hands that shake and legs that go weak in the presence of these rules, some minds that cannot understand the jobs that we do.  That is okay, because we won’t ever stop doing them. Are they quirks? Are they crazy? Do we deteriorate until we become gatekeepers of our certain schedules and routines, repeating them endlessly until the blackness comes to claim us all for the final fight?  We don’t know, and we don’t want to. My family and I, we do our jobs, full of fear. I will continue to make my lists until my dying day. Why do I do it? Because it is a list of things that must be done or everyone will die and the world will end and it will be your fault.  

About the Author

Piper Augspurger is a junior at Miami University, majoring in Creative Writing with a focus in Gender in Global Context. They have had a few poetry pieces published in Miami publications such as The Femellectual and The Miami Student Magazine. They are also one of the editors at The Femellectual, which is produced through Miami's Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, where they work as an intern.