Short Story published in Minnesota Review’s issue #88 |


Your twelfth birthday, was what I said. Sunglasses off, the mall’s arctic ether splashing our faces. I want you to go into a store and pick out anything you want. My boy just turned twelve, an important number, despite being unprime. All numbers are sacred, so said Pythagoras.

“Anything I want?”

“Anything you want, darling.”

Tommy’s swollen sneakers made haste to GameStop. Of course, of course. Not that I expected him to veer toward Barnes & Noble. A son is a precious thing, no matter what he likes, which isn’t what you like.

“Well, that game looks interesting! A whole world of fairies and princes—”

“No, Mom. Over here.”

Mom was now two syllables that dropped from a great height. I drew up close to Tommy, packages already in his hands. So urgent, bangs swamping his brow. Don’t touch his hair. He hates that since last week.

“Sweetie, you know I don’t like war stuff.”

His hazel eyes mocking, rolling.

“May I help you, Ma’am?”

The sales kid in descent. Shock to the face. Teenagers and metal lips. The smell of oniony sweat. Some people get disgusted by this, but being a young mother, I had an open mind. Young mothers stay close to their sons forever.

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