Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 24

24 | Psychopomp Magazine

The Mother shook her head.

The bear eating our house. Grrr Grrr Grrr! The boy pretended to nibble at her shoulder. The Mother laughed and patted him on the head.

The Mother heard something fall. The noise came from the older brother's bedroom.

It’s nothing! He called, before she could say anything. I can fix it myself.

When the Mother came to see if he was all right, she found him reading in bed. He held a book called Captains Courageous, a boy’s book, in paperback. It had sailors—men in blue jackets with jaunty hats—on the cover, water splashing around them, the sky a heavy shade of grey.

Are you ok?

He nodded. Dropped my soccer trophy. He motioned toward it. The metal boy’s head had snapped off. It lay by the trophy, upright.

How awful, she said.

Yeah, the boy said. She waited for more. She could feel it coming, like animals can feel storms approaching.

Why don’t we call somebody about the bear? He asked. We’re gonna run out of food. We could starve and die. Why don’t you call? He was angry with her. He pressed his hands against his mattress as if he had to hold himself back from standing up to her, nose to nose, shouting these things in her face.

We won’t starve, she said. We’ll look later tonight, see if it’s gone. Me and you together. She crouched down by the boy’s bed and put her hand on his bare knee. He wore shorts in the house all of the time, even in winter, as if real, adult clothes hurt him. His skin was smooth, but the hair above it was rough. She patted his knee lightly. He did not remove her hand or move his knee.

Ok, he said. As long as I can help.

When the Mother entered the living room again, it was empty. The door, which had been closed for days, was open, and snow filtered in, spread along the Welcome mat. She stood in the doorway, staring out into the whiteness, barely feeling the cold.

It was beautiful. The snow had not been touched besides in a ragged path around the house. The bear’s tracks, she thought. The sun revealed the millions of glittering, frozen blades of ice in its mass of white.