i watch you watch my son, eyes never wavering as your course fingers play along the end cap of the aisle by the train table in the bookstore. i know everyone in this town, but i don't know you.
hi, there. what's your name?
g-g-george, fear strangles your voice.
my son call my name, and when i turn once more only an empty aisle greets me coldly.
the morning sports page crinkles as i run my finger along the box scores, warm lip of the coffee cup poised for a sip, when Dan pokes his head in...
i was out having beers with fred from down at the sheriff's department last night over at Millie's and he told me we got our first sex offender, here in this town. just registered. can you believe it? better keep and eye on the boy of yours.
indeed i will.
hey josh, remember that guy at the book store the other day?
look i don't want you talking to him.
i don't even know who you are talking about...
look, i said just say away from him.
seeing you stroll down the sidewalk in our neighborhood, as i am leaving for work, grey jogging pant, light, blue shirt untucked, you don't look at me but my eyes follow you the whole way. brakes squeal as i pull to the curb, your head swinging around but i am out the door and in your face before you can even...
you need to stay off this street! if i ever see you here again, i won't even bother calling the cops. do you understand!
you just stare at me, no words, no motion to leave, just the twitch of your finger against the course fabric of your sweat pants.
watching you lope back in the direction you came, my eyes fall on the green and white swing set in my neighbor's yard. my shoulder ratchet tight in the crisp morning air.
you work at the movie theatre, sweeping popcorn from between the seats after each show, pushing your grey plastic trashcan from shadow to shadow.
fresh blood, bright and red traces down the leg of josh's jeans, you pushing the bike along behind him and i...i...i hear his voice screaming, his little hands tugging at me, but it is all lost in the wet sound of my fist against your face and the hollow rebound you head makes against the asphalt. it feels warm spattering against me, running red rivulets of tears.
i don't stop until you are not longer moving, not even twitching, just pulp. it is then that they find me and call the cops.
so, you killed him because you thought he hurt your son?
and he was a sex offender?
at what point, did you realise that both these assumptions were false?
i can't answer, i know i am guilty. i know i will go to jail. i know my son is still out there, and so is that man, and now i can't protect him.
This fictional piece is for Tenth Daughter of Memory.