Elmore, twelve, listened to news radio under the covers. Health care mandates
and budget battles, hiring freezes and tax reform. A world of magic inside that box.
He mouthed the words like incantations. Retaliatory tariff. Assault weapons ban.
The deeper he dove, the less he heard his nineteen–year–old sister, who had forsaken
him, carousing with her surfer boyfriend, or his mom and “Uncle Chad” shouting and
moaning, or clinking bottles and guffawing like fools, or arguing in sharp hissing tones.
Breakfast was at the coffee table. The others hunched over donuts and coffee
and black bananas while Elmore ate bread. The surfer squeezed Belinda’s thigh as Chad
gazed at the screen. The mother noticed Elmore’s strange, private smile. He was growing
up—she must help while she could. She cinched her robe, clicked over from a cartoon to the news.
A filibuster on tort reform. “Baby,” she said, “what’s all that stuff mean?” He
shrugged, and she brought out their golden days rhyme: “Tell me more, Elmore!”
How pathetic she looked. As all of them did.
“Well?” she said. They all watched him now.
His smile widened. He knew, yes he did.
But he just wouldn’t say.
* * *
A human, Jon Sindell is a humanities tutor. His short fiction has appeared in several dozen publications including Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Word Riot, New South, Zouch, Mojave River Review, Prick Of The Spindle, and Crack The Spine. He curates the Rolling Writers reading series in San Francisco and practiced law once’t.