The Last To Turn In

By Katie Greulich

June 28, 2021

The Last To Turn In

Everyone went to sleep, except my cousin and me. I lingered a bit, my own children upstairs, sprawled across air mattresses, or burrowed in rented cribs. He wanted to stay awake, to party. Or at least have a companion to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He keeps checking my reaction at the characters’ antics. I muster a smile. The curtains inside my brain are closing. His parents and sister are sleeping. I am responsible simply because I am awake.

The night is temperate and dark, the air tinged with salt from the sea. Through the large living room windows, I see the small light on the front porch burning away. Gnats that have survived the summer past Labor Day buzz near it. I imagine one stuck at the back of my throat, coming up through my nose in a hard sneeze.

I am no longer his babysitter, not since I was sixteen. The booze is. The drugs are. He is grown now, past thirty years old. I could indulge him, be that good cousin who accompanies him for the night, keeps him clean, talks him off the ledge. Or I could just sit here, so he won’t unravel, tear through the hours in an alternate state, snaking through the sleepy beach town in search of euphoria.

Something on the show makes me laugh. He looks happy.


Katie Greulich is a writer living in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Her work has appeared in The Manifest Station, Mother’s Always Write and elsewhere. She is working on publishing more essays and is writing a novel. 


Picture by Marco Forno courtesy of Unsplash 

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