Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 25

Letitia Trent | 25

She looked behind her, to tell the younger brother not to open the door, to most definitely never open the door again until the bear was gone. He was not in the room. She called his name into the small living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. She looked outside, at that big empty pile of white.

Honey! She called. Mommy is worried! She screamed the boy's name until a pain in her throat made her choke.

What’s wrong? The older brother stood by her shoulder in his shorts. His hands were fisted at his waist. He leaned into the outdoors like a hungry cat might lean for its food dish as you set it down on the floor.

Your brother. She grabbed the older boy’s arm and pulled him toward her. Your brother is outside.

As she held him, the boy’s hair grew. His body bristled, sending shoots of hair beneath her palms, which pricked her. His muscles contracted away from her and then both tightened and expanded, rocking him back and forth on his feet. He grew an inch as he stood. He gave off a sour, but sweet familiar smell—grass clippings left in a bag for two weeks. A pile of fallen leaves.

I knew it, she thought. I knew it would happen.

I’ll find him, the older boy said. He didn’t seem to notice the change, though his voice coming from his throat sounded like the sound a radio would make if under a foot of gravel.

She stepped away from him, from his bristling body in her doorway.

I can’t let you go out there. Her words didn’t come out with any force. He didn’t even answer. He shrugged her away and bent down to put on his shoes. They no longer fit, so he threw them aside.

You’ll freeze like that, she said. She said the words that mothers were supposed to say, but did not feel that they made sense anymore. He was wearing a thin T-shirt, his shorts, no shoes. In the glare of the sun bouncing of the snow’s slick surface, the boy was now larger than she was, hirsute, flexing his hands open and closed. He kept growing in the slanted, cold sun.

He shook his head. I won’t be gone for long. Shut the door after me.

The Mother nodded and stood aside. She shut the door.

The boy had been gone for five minutes when the mother realized she’d been standing at the door,