24

24

 

On my seventh birthday, my father bought me an action figure, a little action man with hair like mine and eyes like mine, brown skin and black hair.

 

I thanked him endlessly: we didn't have much in those days. We had a little mantle where me and my brother kept our playthings; we couldn't reach them and our parent's gave out our toys as rewards.

 

The fireplace was shut up, but it breathed cold air into the house, a saw-toothed evil that sought to destroy the closeness of the family. We all bundled up in seperate corners of the house under large down blankets that wrapped our frozen faces and protected our frigid noses from the deathly chill.

 

I would play with my action figure on the weekends and on winter recess. I would sink him in the water and pretend that he could swim with me on Sunday baths when the bubbles ran thin. My father had saved the meager wage he had earned as a weekend pleasure for his child as he watched sci fi movies and drank from his deep blue can of cheap beer.

 

I remember the day perfectly; the sun was setting over the shedding sycamore trees and the birds shrieked their last calls for joy over the silky outlines of tenements; their windows shone through the looming snow clouds like a tired lamppost with troubled eyes and a deep grief that bore into the porches below.

 

I broke my doll.

 

Its head fell off while I was playing a hero game against the creatures of the woodland night: it just popped right off like a cheap dream and fell to the dingy carpet where the children ate their meals.

 

I didn't know what to do. I screamed inside; I didn't want my father to find out. He had worked so hard.

 

I rushed into the backyard, forgetting to put on my coat or my light up, knock off adidas. I found a quiet spot in the brush, a spot where no one would think to look and the neighbor's basset hound couldn't smell. I buried him in a quiet corner with a rusted table spoon from the kitchen cupboard. I went back inside.

 

A few days passed and I thought he'd never find out, but on a snowy thursday evening he asked where it went. I sat silently.

 

He asked again, then again, then once more, his voice slowly rising to a scream. His eyes were red as a butcher's core and his nostrils flared revealing silver hair that shined even in the dimness of the room.

 

I started weeping and I told him.

 

I'll never forget his face: it swelled with rage, then slowly shrivelled and compressed into something so small that it might be swept away in a nighttime wind and whisked to the outerreaches of the town to never be seen again.

 

I stood there confused. I'd never seen someone shrink so small, I'd never felt so large. He rolled into the terra cotta love seat and cracked his deep blue can of cheap beer without a sound. I silently went upstairs to bed and layed down, wondering what it all meant.