Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Find

Margaret walked slowly through the living room, waiting for her mother to yell at her. Or to ignore her. She lucked out and got the latter. She could feel it hidden under her shirt, an old soccer jersey that was too big for a seven year old girl - it had belonged to Jason. Jason was dead. 

She forced herself to do everything as "normally" as she could. She closed the door to her room with just the right amount of force and gently lifted her shirt. And there it was. Amazing. Her eyes were searchlights, scanning the room ... what would she need? There was also a trilling exuberance in the back of her mind that told her she didn't need anything else. Not anymore. 

Margaret's mother was a stern woman. She was not cruel, but her rules were absolutes. 'No' meant 'don't ask again unless you want the paddle'. Margaret loved her mother, with good reason. She knew what Jason's death had done. She forgave her mother for almost everything. And, now, she would have to lie. Not just one lie. Many lies. A mountain of lies ... if she built it high enough she was sure she'd be able to see over the morass that her life had become.

Hiding it from her father would be easy. He had always focused on Jason, anyway. Now that Jason was gone, he was largely silent. A man-shaped sculpture that lurched around the living room bumping into things and then apologizing to them. She was not convinced the ottoman warranted an apology, but she did not have to worry about her father. He did not see her. Not really.

Her mother. Her mother would take it from her. Her mother would turn red and grow several inches taller and she would take it. And then she would make Margaret apologize, which she would, even as her heart was breaking. Because she knew it was wrong. She was wrong.

She knew it, and she didn't care. She had tried to understand that losing your son changes you. She still struggled to accept it. Her parents were not the same people they had been a year ago. She spent so much time trying not to remind them, trying to be in the background, silent - she often forgot to think that she had lost something, too. 

Jason had been her champion in all causes. Her protector. He had shown her the secret joys that lived in the industrial wasteland behind their house. Where everything was freedom. She had never been scared when Jason stood beside her. He had taught her to curse. To skip smooth stones. He had taught her everything.

She often felt like there was something missing from the house, now. Jason. Of course. She did not realize that he had taken all of the love with him as well, though. His death had built a cathedral of sadness. Love was no longer welcome.

But now, she would have love. Now, she would feel joy again. She watched the small orange kitten stomp around her comforter. It swatted at her hand and she laughed, her mind chirping through the things they would do. She would not have to sleep alone. Whether she was having the nightmares or not. She would have an ally. Something she could protect.

She heard her mother coming up the hallway, quick strides. She didn't knock, but Margaret had just enough time to put the kitten in the closet. Safe. She forced herself to breathe. 

"Margaret. It's almost time to eat."

"OK, Mother. I'll wash up."

"That's a good girl. How was school today?"


"Did you pass your..."

Margaret's mother did not finish her sentence because she was distracted by a sound. They both heard it. A high pitched whine. Then, the tumbling song of fallen toys. Margaret's mother grabbed her by the arm and pulled her in front of the closet. She could see their reflections in the mirrored doors.

"Margaret, open the closet."

And time stopped. Margaret looked at her mother's face in the mirror and saw a befuddled rage building. She scrambled for excuses in her mind. She wanted to run. She looked at her own face and, for the first time, recognized the visage of resigned horror that Jason had left behind.


  1. OMG, Dan, that was heart-wrenching. (that's a good thing in this case)

  2. Actually I didn't really want to read the end, it seemed too terrible. Brill!


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