Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


premature fiction

MacDuff Taylor Is Not Dreaming

“You up, kiddo?”

“Yeah.” Where is it?

“You gonna get out of bed?”

“Yeah.” Maybe he hid it. Maybe he took it with him.

Mom’s hand on my stomach feels good. “You know, you don’t have to go to school today.”

“I know.” It doesn’t matter. He’s not dead.

“The police are going to be there.”

They know. “Why?”

“They’ll want to talk to you and the other kids about Gabriel.”

“But…” They know everything already. They have to.

“They want to find out what happened.” She won’t let me look out the window anymore. Her hand is on my cheek – it feels nice there, except I might cry now. I’m getting too warm. “You okay, honey?”

“No. I don’t wanta go there.” Why can’t I stop? I can’t breathe. I can’t open my eyes.

“It’s okay, kiddo. You don’t have to go. You can stay here.” She’s holding me. I wish she could pick me up and carry me like when I was little. I can’t go to school. Everyone will know I was crying.

“He’s okay. He’s okay, Mom. He’s okay.”

“What honey?”

“He’s just running away.”

“But honey…”

“He’s going… to… um, Mexico.”

“Take it easy, sweetheart. Just breathe. You need to calm down.”

“But Mom-“

“Calm down, now.”

“I need to tell the cops, Mom.”

“Mac, I think you need to calm down, honey. Take a deep breath.” She holds my arms at my sides and kneels down next to the bed. “Now look at me. I think you’re confusing your dreams with what really happened. We do that sometimes – “

“No, Mom. I’m not dreaming. I know what really happened.” She doesn’t believe me. She’s just looking at the floor. She’s crying. “I am not dreaming.” I’ll hide in the shed in the backyard. I’m so sick of her.

“Mac. Mac, come back here.”

Out the kitchen door, across the wet lawn, and into the shed, under the work table and behind the tarp that smells like grass clippings and gasoline. “I’m not dreaming. If the cops think he’s dead, then they don’t know.”