Today, we’re pleased to publish a story that takes full advantage of the epistolary form. “For Danny, Twelve Years Old” is addressed to a boy who has just lost his mother. It is a concise and powerful tale. Don’t miss this moving addition to our New Voices library.
“You will experience a cleaving, and the pre-event you and post-event you will assume radio silence, and you will not know where the first you has gone except that it is to somewhere you cannot follow.”
The news will be the liquid pop of a flashbulb in your brain; it will cause total erasure. You will dissociate from your body and see yourself from above. When two nurses in teal scrubs pass by the window, you will think:
They are having a normal day, and I am not.
You will think:
Who will take me to school tomorrow?
This question, posed seconds after, will be the first of many that are so logistical and quotidian you will feel guilt and selfishness for them.
Who will pack my lunch?
Who will walk the dogs?
Ten minutes after, the hospital counselor will leave you and your father in the room alone. Somehow your sister will arrive, though you won’t know who could have called her, or when.
Will I have to start using an alarm in the morning?
A half hour after, your sister will drive you and your father home in her convertible. The top will be down. Her hair will whip around as her hand rests on your father’s knee. In the backseat, in the wind, will be a chance to cry unnoticed, so use it. At home, when your father unlocks the front door, your two Rottweilers, Samson and Delilah, will greet you excitedly. Your sister will put on the kettle, and your father will shower.
Can Dad do laundry?
In the next few hours, many people you know and some you don’t—but who seem to know you—will come. You will try for hours to ease the houseguests with small talk as they look at you with wonder. It will be bewildering and exhausting. Your extended family will converge upon you from all corners of Texas, and the map of their travel will look like a crosshair with you at its center.