Story 14 # by Matthew Sharpe

photo: Matt Gunther

photo: Matt Gunther

I don’t have anywhere to go. My mom and dad are fighting and my older brother who used to have an apartment across town and would let me sleep there is in Afghanistan and the two real friends I have are away on summer vacation so I’m just out here walking around at night in my t-shirt in the 102 degree heat. It’s cool inside with the a.c. but I don’t have a bedroom anymore since my dad lost his job and we had to move so I have to sit on the toilet in the tiny bathroom or be in the living room and hear my parents call each other vile names. I know I sound like a pussy, it’s not really so bad out here, but I forgot to bring water and I have celiac disease and I think my mom accidentally ordered regular pizza instead of the gluten-free kind so my dinner is making it hard for me to breathe. I’m in this huge parking lot in the dark, I don’t even know what it’s a parking lot of, and there are no cars. A black round thing is coming toward me in the air, gliding toward me. It’s a frisbee. I catch it. “Hello?” No one answers. I throw it back to where it came from. I do not hear it hit the concrete. It comes back to me and I throw it again. “Who’s out there?” Nothing. I walk toward where it keeps arriving from. I almost stumble over something furry and waist-high. It has glowing green eyes. “Did you throw that?” It doesn’t answer and neither does anyone else. It is sniffing my hand, I don’t interact with that many animals. It just bit my hand, hard, and now it’s trotting away with the disc in its mouth. My hand is bleeding. Bobby would know what to do but he’s far away killing al Qaeda. I have to go home, no, I have to lie down. I’m awake again, how long have I been out? I’m lying on the sidewalk. It’s snowing. My hand doesn’t hurt, did that even happen? I’m cold though I have a winter coat on. I better go home. Hey the house is white and it used to be brown. A beautiful young woman answers the door saying, “Hello, may I help you?” “I’m looking for my mom and dad, uh, Phillip and Lisa Braithwaite?” She looks confused. “I’m hungry and tired and cold.” “Hold on,” she says, and walks back into a room I can’t see. She returns with a piece of corn bread. “Here, eat this.” I stand on her porch, which used to be my porch, eating the corn bread. It tastes so good. “What’s your name?” she asks. “Dev Braithwaite.” “Do you know who I am?” “No.” “I’m Sally Braithwaite,” she says like I’m supposed to know who that is. “Are you my cousin or something?” “No,” she says, “I was Bobby’s wife.” “He’s never been married.” “Yes, before he died in the car accident. We tried to contact you for the wedding and then the funeral.” “No!” I say, “he’s in Afghanistan.” I’m scared, and she stares at me, looking scared too. “Come in, Dev.” She sits on the couch which is a different couch than before and she signals me to sit next to her. “My God,” she says, “you look just like him.” She throws her arms around my neck and sobs. Then we’re kissing. I haven’t ever kissed anyone so I don’t know if it usually feels so sad and good at the same time.

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