Marty woke up early today. Sleeping was a bit harder ever since Daddy went away. Marty slowly petted his cat Ryder. The cat purred and brushed his face lovingly and aggressively against Marty's hand. Today was a school day. Marty couldn't stay in bed all day petting his cat. He lay a while continuing the petting and then stood up and searched for some clothes. Mommy used to put his clothes out for him, but she stopped doing that a while ago. Marty figured that she must think he's big enough to get his own clothes out.
In the kitchen, Marty's Mom paced back and forth, attempting to make breakfast but not staying focused on the task at hand. Marty strolled in. He watched his Mom open cabinets and close them, open the fridge and close it, get out a plate just to put it back.
“Mommy, can I have some cereal this morning?” asked Marty.
Marty's Mom stared off in his direction without uttering a word.
“Mommy, I really want some cereal.”
Marty's Mom opened a cabinet up and took out a bowl. Then, like a robot, she walked to another cabinet and grabbed a box a cereal. She poured some of the cereal into the bowl, then abruptly stopped. With an angry face she placed the bowl on a counter by the sink and then violently threw the box across the room, scattering the contents all over the floor. She then stormed out of the room holding her head with her hands.
Marty shouted at his Mom, “Mommy, are you mad at me? I can't reach the cereal there.”
Marty waited for the bus outside his house. The bus came and went, but did not stop. This scared Marty, he knew he would have to walk to school alone. He always remembered to walk straight to school and not to talk to strangers. About a block from his house, he passed a man sitting on a bench.
“Hi, Marty. How are you this morning?” asked the man. The man was dressed similar to the gym teacher at school. Marty did not reply. He kept his eyes straight ahead not making eye contact. He walked passed the man without saying a word. He would not talk to this stranger.
At school he sat at his desk and day dreamed as usual. When the teacher asked a question that he knew the answer to he raised his hand enthusiastically. He kept his hand up and pleaded to be picked, “pick me pick me,” he said. The teacher overlooked him and waited until another student raised her hand.
A worksheet was being handed out by another student. He meticulously handed a sheet to each desk, one by one. When he got to Marty's desk, he paused a minute and stared at the chair with a horrified look in his eyes. Marty felt like this student was looking right through him. The student moved on to the next desk without leaving a sheet on Marty's desk. Marty was very upset and confused by this students actions.
Later in the day, Marty stood by the windows looking out and daydreaming. A classmate named Cindy walked up to Marty as he looked out the windows.
“What ya doing?” she asked.
“What ya thinking about?”
“I'm a pirate on the beach, digging up buried treasure. Why are the other kids acting weird?”
“They just afraid. They been afraid since you went away.”
“But I'm right here.”
“I know. I know.” Cindy put her arm around Marty to comfort him.
At recess, Marty played as well as he could with the other kids. He could sense that they were not allowing him to participate in their games. After a while he just sat on the sidewalk and waited for recess to be over. Before they went in the teacher took a head count of all her students. Marty noticed she did not count him. Marty joined the other students as they walked inside, but he continued to wonder why the teacher did not count him with her headcount.
After school, Marty walked home, alone again. Again Marty saw the man on the bench dressed like the gym teacher.
“Hello Marty, nice day at school?” asked the man.
Marty did not make eye contact. He passed the strange man in silence. Don't talk to strangers, he thought. Mustn't talk to strangers.
The strange man observed Marty walking away from him. A tear formed in his eye. Patience, he thought. Be patient, he will come around eventually.
Marty went into his house and called for his Mom. There was no answer. Marty's Mom was still at work, so he decided to entertain himself by getting out his favorite toy. He pulled out of a closet his favorite fire truck along with a box that he always pretended was a burning building. He also pulled out several action figures and proceeded to act out numerous scenarios involving residential fires.
Marty's Mom came home. She entered the house in a very mechanical fashion. As soon as she noticed the toys spread out on the floor, she froze. Her face was very pale and her eyes bulged. After a minute she abruptly walked across the room and exited to a den. She had to summon all her strength to keep from trembling and crying. She walked to a photograph of her late husband. Brushing it with her hand she mentioned what a long year this has been. Then she grabbed a photograph of Marty. Just four weeks earlier Marty was a healthy boy, then he got sick. Holding the photo in her arms and against her chest as if hugging it she fell to the floor sobbing uncontrollably.
“Oh Marty, why did you have to go and die,” she sobbed.
“Mommy, I'm right here Mommy,” Marty screamed at his mother. “I'm right here. I'M RIGHT HERE. I'M RIGHT HERE!”
Kenneth L Gibbons is a factory worker from upstate New York. He holds a degree in IT. He is a passionate musician and song writer. He is also the author of The Ghost Hunter, available through http://www.kennystales.com.