Punishment

“She took a hammer and smashed my game. Hard, all to bits. It was a punishment.” He sat in the backseat, strapped in, his face to the window. Then his eyes met mine through the rearview mirror. He saw something, a flinch, a startle, maybe. “I deserved it,” he said.  “Really I did.”

Another day, they were laughing. They could have been brothers, the two cutups. We drove past a stand of trees and then it was quiet in the car. “Have you been to that graveyard?” Asking me, this time. I had no idea a cemetery was in that neighorhood, hidden somewhere amid well-tended yards and fine, old houses.

“There’s a little boy’s grave. I go when I’m riding my bike. He died a long time ago, but somebody leaves teddy bears. And cookies and things. On the boy’s birthday? There are always cookies. I don’t touch them.” I asked why he went there. “I like to,” he said. “And it just makes me really sad.” I held my eyes steady, steely straight ahead. I kept clearing my throat. Finally I said all I could say, “It makes me sad too. It’s nice of you to think about him. You know, you are such a good kid.”

We haven’t laid eyes on him in years. But I still can see him, sitting at the grave of a long gone boy. The living keeping  company with the dead.

This entry was posted in anger, childhood, death, family, sadness on by .

About Carole Corlew

I am a freelance writer and editor. I spent years in the news business, primarily as an editor. I started out in newspapers, but soon found the "wires" more suitable for the restless soul. Despite that, I've now lived in the Washington, D.C. area for 30 years, in D.C., Baltimore and now Virginia. When we moved to Virginia, just a few miles from the capital, my Iowa-born husband quipped that I had insisted on that location so I could be "a few steps closer to her beloved deep south." We have a teenage son.

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