My dog died in the morning. I cried, but Mom cried more than me. Dad didn’t cry this time. I wanted to ask him why. I didn’t, though. Dad did a good job burying him.

I heard Mom and Dad argue. It was a lot louder than their other fights. They were worried about getting caught and they didn’t know what to do with me. I felt bad because I never wanted to hurt Mom and Dad.

His name was Cleveland, by the way. He was a St. Bernard, like Cujo. Dad let me watch Cujo when I was six, but I think I was too young to watch that movie. A policeman died.

Cleveland is in my backyard now. He’s in the spot with no grass. There are three other spots. Cleveland is behind the porch.

After we buried him, I went to school. Mom made me. She kept crying in the car. Maybe she noticed that Dad didn’t cry and wanted to make up for it. Her face was red. That’s my favorite color. Her face made me sad, though.

I sat in the car like a good boy. The radio was loud. I asked Mom why she didn’t make my lunch and why she gave me a hundred dollar bill instead. I thought it was a mistake, but she said no. She told me to buy milk and a sandwich. I said that milk and a sandwich was a dollar and a half, not a hundred dollars. She didn’t hear me. She told me I was sitting in the car like a good boy. I like when she notices.

I wanted her to turn down the radio, but she didn’t. So I did. I sat too far away and couldn’t reach the button with my fingers, so I changed the station with my foot. Mom yelled at me to stop. I should use my hands, like a normal person. She was mad, but she said she was sorry for yelling. Next time, I will use my hands.

We got to my school. It’s big and has a lot of students, even sixth graders. The science fair is in three weeks. I already knew I was going to use bugs.

I told Mom good-bye, but she stopped me with her hand. She said I love you and she kissed me on the forehead. Her face was wet. She said I love you a bunch of times. I was almost late to class.

Mrs. Nelson is my teacher. She’s tall. Ronny said that sometimes he can see up her skirt. I think he’s lying and I think he’s gross.

I sat next to Julie W. and Tom. Tom’s funny and gets to watch TV late at night. I said hello to Tom and he said hi. He smiles a lot. I think he will need braces when he’s bigger.

When class started, we learned about old stuff, like history and slaves. Mrs. Nelson said it was really bad to be a slave and they had to work in the fields a lot digging up grass and stuff. They couldn’t be with their families or their cousins. They could only work all the time and sometimes sing songs. I didn’t understand. There were lots of them and they had shovels and pitchforks and I’m sure they were angry. Why couldn’t they just fight back and not be slaves? Why couldn’t they just hurt the other people and say we don’t want to be slaves? I asked Mrs. Nelson that, but she said it was more complicated. I don’t think it was complicated at all. They had pitchforks.

I stood up and argued with Mrs. Nelson because she was acting stupid. She told me to sit down and I did, but only because everyone was watching. Sometimes, I don’t really listen to what Mrs. Nelson says. She’s not my mom.

Julie W. touched my shoulder with her fingers and told me to be quiet. She didn’t want me to get in trouble. She smiled. I like Julie W. a lot better than Mrs. Nelson sometimes.

At recess time, I played on the jungle gym. I made up this game where the ground is lava and if you touch the ground you burn. It was fun. I explained the game to Ronny, but he thought it was stupid, so when he wasn’t looking I made his nose bleed. Then I played jump rope.

After recess, we learned math stuff. That was when I talked to Tom. He told me a joke about black people. He heard it from his dad. Tom is kind of poor.

Mrs. Nelson stopped the math lesson early. She said we needed to focus, so she pulled out cards and we played math bingo instead. I like focusing.

Lunch was weird. I tried to buy a sandwich and milk, but the lunch lady got surprised by my hundred dollar bill and sent me to the principal. She didn’t tell me why. I didn’t like her because her eyes looked kind of mean. She’s only the lunch lady, so why should I listen to her? Before I left, she had an accident and she burned her hand off.

When I saw Principal Miller, I was real hungry. I told him and he gave me a sucker. I tried to say that the sucker was bad. We learned about the food pyramid once. He said eat the sucker and I ate it. I like green apple. It makes my mouth get small. Mr. Miller asked me where I got my hundred dollars, and I told him that my mom gave it to me and she was crying. Mr. Miller tried to call Dad at work, but he wasn’t there. He tried calling Mom and she wasn’t there either. Mr. Miller was confused. He gave me another sucker.

An ambulance came and Mr. Miller heard the news from the secretary and left. The secretary took me back to class. She said Mr. Miller was busy. Mr. Miller gets busy real fast.

When I got back to class, all the other kids were walking through the door. They had to leave the cafeteria early. Some of them were really scared or really sad, and I think it was my fault. Mrs. Nelson let us play heads-up-seven-up for a while until the buses took us home. It was a half day, I guess.

My bus smells like chocolate. It’s bus #3.

When I got home, no one was there. I rang the bell three or four or maybe even seven times, but no one was home. My face felt like summertime and I got real worried. Mom can always tell when I’m worried because I bite my lip and I play with my shirt. But Mom wasn’t there and I was very alone. I stood on the porch with my backpack and a thermos.

I jiggled the doorknob but it was locked. Dad always leaves a key under a rubber rock, mostly for Uncle Christian but sometimes for Mom when she forgets things. No one is supposed to know that the rock is fake, so I try to be a secret agent when I use it. I waited till the neighbor lady finished her watering, then I scooped it up and twisted the key and ran inside. I was proud. No one saw.

The lights were still on in the TV room. There’s a light on the ceiling fan and a lamp too and they were both on. I knew in my insides that Mom wasn’t home. I guess the principal never got to talk to her.

I felt weird because I knew I was too young to be alone. I was doing a bad thing and Mom and Dad would fight again. I don’t like doing bad things, because Mom and Dad always get disappointed.

I’m not supposed to watch TV without Mom in the room, so I sat on the couch and colored. I waited for a long time. I finished coloring all the animals and I went pee two times, that’s how long I waited.

I wanted Mom and I started crying again. I don’t like being home alone because I need supervision. Things break.

Usually when I have nothing to do, I play with Cleveland. But I couldn’t anymore. He died in the morning. I wish I hadn’t played so hard.

I went to the kitchen and made cereal. I remembered what Mom said in the car, so I used my hands to pour the cereal. That way, I was normal. It was tough for me, because the milk was heavy. My hands aren’t very strong. I’m kind of small for my age.

It got darker and I called 9-1-1. I told the lady that my parents never came home. She sent some people to get me.

Soon, a lot of grown-ups knocked on the door. A fat old woman asked me a bunch of questions. She wore bright colors. She asked if my parents had any weird people come to visit and I said no. She asked if they argued and I said yes, but only after I did something bad. I didn’t tell her about the babysitters that Mom and Dad buried under the grass. Dad always said that they were our secret and if people found out that I was special and that I could make bad stuff happen, I would get in big trouble. The old lady was nice and stayed with me in a new house for the night.

The policemen found Mom and Dad the next day. They were running away and staying at a motel in Arizona. I’m going to see them again at the courthouse. They probably don’t want to see me. They probably were running away from me because I’m bad.

Mom and Dad made me angry. At the courthouse, I think I will be bad again.

Evan Purcell

Evan Purcell

Evan Purcell is a writer who's lived everywhere from America to Zanzibar. He's currently living in the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan, where he works as a volunteer English teacher in a small school high up in the mountains. His latest novel, One Night in Zanzibar, is now available everywhere.
Evan Purcell

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