FICTION February 17, 2012


“I know you’re resting now. Sorry to bother you. I have some news though, hopefully exciting news. I convinced your mother of something.”

This was a coup. Daniel opened the door to find his father offering a slight smile. “She’s going to let us build your bat box.”

The box. It took Daniel a moment to remember. The past few weeks’ events had made him forget all about his recent request.

Now Daniel thought of the bats surrounding him, their small, beating bellies filled with the fresh blood of that night. Would he be able to behave if one arrived in front of his father?

Daniel stood silently. He felt no pressure to give an immediate answer or to hurry up; he liked this much about his father.

“Are you worried about being out during the day?” Chris asked.

Daniel looked up and smiled. His dad really was a thoughtful guy. “Well, it would be kind of hard to build in the dark, right?”

Chris paused. “I’m sure, if we wanted, we could bring our own illuminating device. That way you wouldn’t have to disrupt your schedule.” He paused again. “I read an article, once, about the impact schedule changes have upon one’s body. It really does wreak havoc.”

“But you’d be disrupting your schedule.”

Chris brought his hand to his lip. Apparently he hadn't thought of that. “It’s okay," he said at last. "I’m older and no longer growing. I can offset the negative side effects though proactive behavior, like increased electrolyte intake.”

“So you’d do it at night? Really?”
“Of course.”

Daniel was a little surprised to find himself hugging his father. Chris’s large, gentle hands began to pat his back, and Daniel tried to fight back his tears. If he sees you crying, he thought, he’ll know everything. But the more he tried not to cry, the harder his hands squeezed around his father’s chest, feeding the pressure of the mounting sob. He made only a small noise, but it was undeniable.

“Daniel? What’s going on? Hey, everything’s just fine.”

Then came a silent, five-second window where the course of events could have changed completely. Daniel almost blurted out a word, and one word is all it would’ve taken to begin the entire confession. He would’ve pulled his father into his room, showed him the pillow that Pickle slept against, lifted the heavy tapestry from his window and torn away a piece of the aluminum foil to reveal where he had hidden the dead bird’s body. The day would’ve ended with a clear conscience, but also the heavy weight of knowing that his future may not be so rosy, and could even result in the new changes of his body leaving, or being taken away by force.

Instead, he remained quiet, and his father did the rest.

“Son, I’m so sorry. I had no idea that doing something on your schedule would mean so much. We’re going to make more of an effort now, as a family. I promise.”

Daniel pulled back, nodding heavily. “I didn’t mean to get all emotional or whatever.”