I tried to name this post Sodium – but apparently, it’s already been done somewhere in the archives. I feel very salted down and put away for safe-keeping, a metaphor that means more to me than I can even say.
It is the magical Sunday night. My room is fairly clean. I’m watching Who Do You Think You Are – the Blair Underwood episode – I have two people to write back. I have the bath to take. I have the head to set on straight, but I feel…decent, all things considered.
One day at a time is all you can do. All you can account for yourself, really.
Adrian didn’t think of himself as the boy who had a sliver of the Devil in his eye. He’d heard that said once, by Mr. Early leaning out a car window to his son as he ran toward the school. It was half out of earshot, but he could always remember those words, spat out out so casually into the sharp morning light of a chilled autumn morning. “You be nice to him now, don’t matter if he’s got the Devil in his eye. ”
Before that, Adrian used to be friends, he was sure, with Mr. Early’s son, John, a bulky, sturdy, farm boy-looking kid who’d never pushed a plow in his life. They talked about about the Bengals, about school, about girls. He’d never questioned it. But that October, Adrian was walking behind the school, just thinking. His grandfather had been crying that morning. He didn’t want him to know he noticed this veteran, this actual farm boy bellowing and sobbing into a pillow that didn’t mute half of his sorrow and rage. Adrian slipped out the front door. There was no lunch on the countertop this morning, an occurrence that was becoming more and more common, so his backpack carried Lillie’s book and that was it.
John nodded, though, he heard his father and Adrian saw and heard enough. When John asked if he wanted to come over that night for dinner, he was of two minds. His stomach knotted up, ravenous, but something like pride lopped all the knots off with a blade. “Nah” was how he left it, choosing to eat by himself instead of with John and John’s gradient smear of geeky friends. Guys that had always given him their dump trucks, their G.I. Joes, their extra fries. Now that his mother was dead, well, maybe that was one too many.
But he knew what it was that made them hesitate, made their fathers have to remind them that they were good kids, that he, was still a good kid. Wasn’t his fault his mother was floating in Ames Lake, two weeks ago, just before the first frost. Wasn’t his fault a man almost drowned to death trying to fish her out.
Though, the things they told their kids, he was learning, were never the things they told each other, told themselves.
A little moment, but he told Lillie that’s when it started. That’s when he stopped being a good kid and what happens next, there is no myth to follow.