The back entry is cramped and haphazard, a bent coat rack pushed in under high cupboards, an old bureau with drawers that won’t open full of mittens, scarves and unused kitchen utensils. A worn door mat fills most of the floor space, and cat food bowls full of crusty dried food tucked under the bureau wait for the next serving. My sweet sister chases me through the kitchen and I head for the coat rack. An odd turn of events; an impulsive reach into the slotted knife drawer. I feel a tiny moment of worry, but know it is just a game. I giggle, my face chafing at the itchy brown wool of a coat rarely worn. She sticks the knife in. My fingers bleed from two or three gashes. We stare in horror at our game gone awry.
I cut my fingers on cat food cans, pulling the top out after removing the can from the wall-mounted opener. Raw hands and the back entry go together. Scraping cruddy cat dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. Yanking the sticky handle of the old screen door with mottled gray lattice, bumpy from exposure. It screeches and never shuts easily. Cats come in and out, we at their beck and call.
Cans of tomato soup and tuna fish are staples in those cupboards. We make our own lunches, home from the neighborhood school, and sit at the dining room table reading the comics.
In high school the back entry is my exit to freedom, to the car that takes me away from feeding cats and loading dishwashers and making lunches and cutting fingers. The draft from the door brings me closer to getting out. Two steps down, a quick strut out to the car, and off.