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Distant Memories - Casey Kenreich

Distant Memories by Casey Kenreich from Vantage

Wind

The kid’s gotten into this bad habit of asking me questions.

You oughta see it; I think you’d laugh.

And next to can I stay home from school today, you’re the most asked about subject around here.

Where’d Daddy go? Why isn’t he here? Is he mad at me? It’s disgusting.  One time he even asked me if you were dead.

We were sitting at the kitchen table, and he was watching me assemble a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as if he thought I was making it for him.  Like hell- I told him the minute he first stepped through the door-- in this house, we make our own sandwiches. That’s the most important rule, aside from no drinks and drugs and shit. Of course, the rules didn’t apply to the under-ten crowd, so I’m golden.

Anyway, he was watching me with his head on the table and he asked me, “Is Daddy dead?”

I froze, and slid the sandwich across to him with a palpable sense of defeat.  “He’s indisposed,” I told him.

His eyes bugged out in horror, turned towards the kitchen sink.  “Did you put him in there?”

“What? No! Indisposed. You little psycho.” I ran my hands through my hair.  “I mean he’s not available.”

“I could’ve told you that,” he said.

Huh. Starting to talk like me. I’d have to nip that in the bud.

“Eat your sandwich,” I snapped. I drummed my fingers on the tabletop and tried to think of something zen to tell him. Or at least something creative.

At the distant tinkle of wind chimes on the patio- the ones you put up three years ago- I said, “It was the wind.”

He stopped eating and stared at me.

“Uh-huh. Yeah. The wind carried him away.”

“How?”

“...You know birds? You know birds. Did you know their bones are hollow?”

He shook his head.

“It’s true. It makes them lighter so they can fly. If their bones were solid all the way through, like ours, they’d be too heavy.”

“Okay,” he said dubiously. Curious, I’m sure, as to where I was going with this.

“Your dad’s bones started to hollow out when he got really skinny. You remember?”

He nodded.

“Well one day he woke up, looked over at me, and said, ‘I feel lighter than air.’ ‘You just might be,’ I said. I was joking. ‘Cause he was so skinny, you know? But when he walked out the door to get the paper, and whoosh.” I made an upward cutting motion with the blade of my hand. “Like superman. Or a plastic bag, or something. Gone.”

“That’s crazy!”

“I know, right? But that’s what happened. You should’ve seen me standing out there, yelling, ‘Hey, where you going? Your kid’s still here, what the hell am I supposed to do with him?”

The kid leaned forward across the table, shocked and thrilled. “What’d he say?”

I shrugged. “Couldn’t hear him. He was too high up by then.”

“How high up did he go?”

“All the way up, I guess.”

“Is he ever coming back?”

“Maybe. Maybe if he eats a decent meal, gains a few pounds, he just might.”

There was silence at the table. I always loved that moment right after the lie, when he thinks I’m like this omniscient being. Your son turned out to be a gullible little punk, but then, you always were a little bit, too.

He looked up at me suddenly.

“So if I don’t eat anything and get real skinny, will I see Daddy again?”

I felt like I had been smacked upside the head. With an anvil. With an anvil and the words ‘BAD PARENTING’ stamped on the side of it.

“What?” I cried. “No! The point is you’re supposed to eat.”

“But Daddy was skinny, and he flew away!”

“That’s a bad thing!”

He looked stunned. “But I love Daddy.”

I rubbed my hands over my face. “Me too, kid.”

“Great!” He brightened, hopped down from his chair, and after a moment’s consideration, pushed the plate with the sandwich on it back over to me. “Here you go,” he said. “I don’t want you to fly away before I can. That way I have you here, and Daddy up there. You can follow after me, okay?”

“Okay,” I groaned, as he ran out of the room. Probably to run around the backyard, burning off the weight he couldn’t afford to lose.

I couldn’t wait for social services to get a hold of this.

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