I went to the cottage with my parents but had to leave one day early because I couldn’t stop crying. We arrived wednesday night, the front door was jammed shut and my dad had to get some oil from the shack to open it. The grass in the little garden in the back was so tall and wet, mom said I could just pee in the garden, I didn’t have to go in the forest. Besides, leaves were crunching and paws were moving in the dark behind the rocks and trees. It had to be a hedgehog, the deer moved quieter and faster, and I couldn’t really think of any other large animals making that much sounds. I used my the flashlight on my mom’s telephone to look for the hedgehog, while she used my dad’s to help him see where he was putting the oil. I didn’t see the animal, but I stepped on a large, black snail just outside the toilet. The day after was great. The sun was shining and I was reading for my exam. My mom and dad were working in the garden, and I would have loved to help them, but I said I couldn’t because I had to read. I hadn’t even read half the assigned literature and it was only two weeks til my exam. The texts were interesting but the words were so slippery they went right in and right out again. I couldn’t tell you a single word of what I’d read, but if you asked me, I could tell you everything. The sun stood tall on the south sky and shot beams right at my left arm and neck, burning it even though I had put on some old sun screen I had found in a cupboard. After noon, my mom and dad started to talk about getting out in the boat. “Let’s make coffee?” she asked me and I nodded and in my mind I thought it sounded swell, really, and it was. The boat was full of water and mud but we washed it quickly and drove out. The temperature was soft and warm and the breeze was fresh, my dad brought two fishing rods and he and I threw out old metallic fishes and hauled them in again. We drove the boat north and got on a small island to drink the coffee and eat some old wheat buns my mom had digged up from the freezer. I got off the boat first and helped her out and she walked around a small cliff and sat down right next to a dead seagull. Neither she nor I saw the bird until my dad came as well and pointed it out at once. We giggled at it and drank the coffee from an old thermos in old cups, all from the sixties, when my mom was out with her parents drinking coffee from their new colorful minimalistic tableware. I fished some more and my mom sat facing the sun, staring at the sea, her legs straight forward in a narrow “V” and her back slightly crooked. She looked like a child when it is eating and losing its consiousness into the neverending intercepting waves, but it wasn’t this that made me cry. We went back and dad made us mojitos and we ate a good dinner and drank red wine and walked around the caravan site nearby. The sea had been full of moon jellyfishes at the day, but now it was filled with herring, and small pollocks would feast on them by herding the little fish into the rocks. The sea was literally boiling with jumping fish brimful of life, eating and getting eaten. Fishermen were quitting for the day, plastic bags full of mackarells chasing the smaller fish. The rocks and the seaweed by the shore were shining and glimmering with the millions of little fishes. The sea had only 15 degrees but the water felt summer warm when I put my hands down to catch them. The herring swam through my fingers and got stuck in my palms and panicked. I picked up some and held them between my hands, their little bodies clapping against my skin, their tiny anxious muscles against my large. The skin on my hands was filled with fish shells, like glitter. The fishes and the seagulls hunting them and their little chicks, the jellyfish and the flowers of late may, all exploding with life and fertility and productivity and the purple, vulgar naturality of death, neither this was the reason why I had to go home because I couldn’t stop crying. It was the visit we made next day, to my grandparents, my mother’s mother, feeble and nervous from a rotting body and bitter children and mental diseases, her stubborn and caring husband whose stoic and elitistic attitude towards life made him hated and admired and a superfan of The Soviet Union, which he visited so many times it’s a wonder he wasn’t suspected of being a spy. Two of my cousins came as well, two women on 27 and 25, the youngest sympathetic and well at hiding her bad sides, the oldest a doctor, married for five years, her doctor husband was also here to visit my grandparents. Both girls athletic, well educated, smart, societal, pretty to the top, parents divorced, their father denies all his family, thank god their youngest sister wasn’t coming as well. Every time I hear these cousins are coming, I share looks with my sisters and my mother and it’s true that silence can say more than words. We sat there from 1 in the afternoon until we sort of slipped out the door like old dish water going out the drain three hours later. My mom attempted to leave after two hours, but her mother cried that we couldn’t leave already. My grandfather said less than ten sentences, I said less than five, my dad said probably around twenty or thirty, which is unusual considering it’s him. He also brought his film camera and filmed a few minutes when my cousins took off their t-shirts in the heat and revealed their flat chests under white quality bikini tops. It got colder and colder and I sat in the shadow smiling and “uh-huh”ing and shivering and sending a couple of stern looks at my mom and she talked about the surgery she is having in a few days where 99 of 100 patients make it. My doctor cousin and her doctor husband discussing blood thinning medicines with my mom and her mom. My other cousin telling discretely and humorous that she and her boyfriend had broken up yesterday, for the fourth time in three years. When she asked my mom about my older sister’s love life, I got up and went inside but my grandfather was on the toilet so I stood and stared at nothing for two minutes before I went out again. I hugged my grandmother and smiled and got swept out the door, “Good bye, good bye, tell your mother I say hi, good bye”. I closed the door in one soft movement and imagined as many different ways possible to hurt and kill myself when I walked down the steps: a mixer in my guts, knives through my cheeks, a car at 10 miles per hour crushing my head and neck, throwing myself down from a scaffolding, pills, cutting wrists, getting diseases, voluntaring for charity somewhere in Africa and getting shot and bombed by rebels. One tear before we stopped at a grocery store, unregular breath as I waited for my mom and dad to finish shopping, sobbing four or five times when they went inside a garden store, slapping my cheeks and breathing into my hands so my eyes dried up. The sky had that dead whiteness from thin clouds, it was chill and I was still cold from sitting still for four hours in the shadow. I said to my mom “Maybe I should take the bus home tonight, I’ll probably get more reading done at home”. I said it to hurt her, an admission that I had been crushed and tortured by myself and the last five hours. Her face when she believed my words, my punishment for her life, my punishment for my life. One last night at the cottage before she comes home and gets a surgery where one in a hundred dies. She said she understood my panic, the angst before an exam, feeling you won’t be able to read everything, to be well prepared. I didn’t cry until I got on the bus. “Send me a message when you’re home safely.” We both said it. I sat almost at the back of the bus, I put on my sun glasses and sniffed up my snot, and tears rolled and rolled and rolled. Who could I tell, I thought, who can I tell the secret it is, that I had to go home from what could be the last night at the cottage with my mom, because I couldn’t stop crying? Who could I tell that I sat on a bus and cried for five hours? It was all so neat yet untidy, sprawled over my life, blending with past and present and future, like old ghost going through walls because in their times, there were no walls there. I got home and felt like I had a fever. I changed my bed sheets and tried to fall asleep, my little sister came home drunk and made a lot of noise, she opened my bedroom door and I pretended to be asleep, I didn’t even open my eyes. My mom and dad are coming home today, they will be in later than they thought so we won’t be eating dinner together, not tonight either. It wasn’t my period, and I wasn’t tired, and I wasn’t anxious for my exam. Even if I could tell someone that I had to leave a holiday because I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t explain why. It was the visit, but I couldn’t ever have avoided it. It was my cousins but I couldn’t avoid them either. And it was my weeping grandmother and my sick mother and my difficult father, but I wouldn’t avoid them. And the day after I am reading less than I would have if I stayed at the cottage and cried in front of my mom and dad.