“Where you from?”
“Got me. We never stay anywhere long enough to be from there.”
“Must suck. Where you been?”
“First I remember was someplace cold. Then palm trees. We go wherever they send my dad.”
“Got any brothers or sisters?
“One what?”
“Of each. On either side. They go, too.”
“Go where?”
“Wherever we have to go. All those places I can’t remember.”
“Guess you gotta go.”
“Yeah. One thing I found out. Teachers don’t like messin’ up their
seating charts for us.”
“Got a dog?”
“We had a black one once. He ran off, though.”
“Maybe he forgot where you lived.”
“I think he got tired of all the yellin’.”
“What yelling?”
“My mom. My brother and sister. Not my dad, though.”
“He reads the paper.”
“No, I mean why do they yell?”
“Hair. Clothes. Friends. Secrets they all know ‘cept me.”
“Must be scary.”
“I hide when it gets bad……Hey, does the dark ever sit on your chest?”
“No, but it crawls out of my closet.”
“Sometimes at night the dark gets so heavy I can’t breathe. And it follows me wherever we go. Maybe it’ll suffocate me someday. It sure feels like it could some nights.”
“Anybody else see it sittin’ on you?”
“Don’t think so. We don’t talk much in my family. And my sister sleeps a lot, so the dark could sit on her chest all night long and she wouldn’t know it.”
“Who do you talk to if everybody yells and your sister sleeps all the time?”
“Nobody. The people in my stories. Now you.”
“You don’t talk to your ma?”
“How come?”
“I’m ugly.”
“Who says?”
“I have funny-looking toes. A big nose like my grandpa. Plus she says my breath stinks.”
“Hey! Let me smell!”
“Won’t do any good. Nobody can smell it but her.”
“Well, who’s in your stories?”
“People I make up. Families who have dogs and don’t yell. And they live in one house.”
“Who reads them?”
“Nobody. But sometimes I’m in the stories. And my breath never stinks.”

Deborah has been published in The Teacher Magazine, Florida Times-Union, First Coast Parent Magazine and most recently, Breathe Free Press and Runcible Spoon. She is the author of Character in Everything, a curriculum for school-aged children, and the author of two books: Broken Strings: Wisdom for Divorced and Separated Families and Nothing to Complain About: My 125-Day Journey to Become Complaint Free. Her third book, in progress, is a collection of her Haiku.

Featured photograph by Karissa Lang