by Sam Gee

This is before the hospital. Before two digit addition, before I really knew
anything. Early morning, 2 or 3 AM. August clogs the AC unit. Dad grabs
me awake, drags me out of bed, says he has a surprise. I’m still stumbling
through sleep. I follow instruction. Room to room I smother the lights.
He opens the front door. Late summer breeze slugs in wet and heavy. Moon
glows like Chernobyl. He’s dragged two rocking chairs to the lawn’s dense
center. Two planes tearstreak the moon’s face like smudged pencil.
I don’t remember falling asleep. I do remember him carrying me upstairs, my ear
pressed against his chest, the slop of his wobbly heart, the steady applause
of mine. He lies when he can’t catch his breath. There’s nothing inherently wrong
with falsehood, except sometimes it takes too long. Later that year his heart will snap
like a guitar string tuned too tight, and the doctors will decorate his bed with
Christmas lights. But I don’t know this yet. I didn’t notice anything. I won’t for a while.

Author Biography: Sam Gee is a junior at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. He’s a ramen connoisseur and he sleeps a lot.