Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler

 

premature fiction

Time For Bed

They said Gabriel is dead, but they’re lying. They hadn’t shown them any pictures. They just didn’t want to tell all the kids they didn’t know where he went.

He went to Mexico. He always said he would. He’s probably not there yet, but that’s where he’s going. He probably just got to the Aquaduct way over past Livermore. That’s a couple hours in a car, but not as far as the Pacific Ocean. He’s probably camped there on the bank or sleeping in someone’s barn or something. Or maybe still going.

He’ll walk down the canal until he gets to Los Angeles and then find Jaime’s cousin who will take him to Mexico. He’ll be there next week.

He should have told me. He could have taken my old back pack and some of the food at the back of the cupboard mom always forgets she has.

Why did they tell us he died? That was stupid. They should have said he moved away.

“Time for bed, kiddo.”

Why is everyone acting so weird?

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” He’s not dead.

“It’s been a tough day, huh?”

“I guess.” Maybe not everyone knows.

“You know, you don’t have to go to school tomorrow if you don’t want to.”

“What?” Just the police and the principal.

“You can stay home from school.”

“Why?”

“Because of Gabriel. Because of what happened to him today.”

“Okay.” Nothing happened. He just ran away.

“You want to stay home?”

“I dunno.” Why won’t she just stop acting dumb?

“Well, we’ll see in the morning, alright?”

“Yeah.”

“You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

Yes, you wouldn’t get it. “Time for bed.”

Alone, with the light off and the smell of the orchard at the end of the block coming through the window, it’s easy to see Gabriel on the canal. He’s walking in the moonlight. He’s not afraid of anything. He’s just walking along.

I bet he took it with him. Maybe not. It’s kind of heavy, but it changed everything a little bit. Just for day or two, but that’s what probably gave him the idea. If he could go in and take that thing just like that, then why not go to Mexico?

I wonder if his Mom and Dad know. They shouldn’t worry. He’s just fine in the moonlight…walking along…going to Mexico…because he’s not afraid…not anymore…not since the other day…not dead…just gone…didn’t say goodbye…somebody would have told…he just went…in the moon…gone…