Shantih Journal 2.1 - Page 79

all other nights, if he didn’t know where Denny was when he was in the place he would rather be. He had seen him huddling and trading pulls at a joint and smiling, he was smiling so that his whole face seemed to widen. Adam had wondered at that smile and what it meant and what it meant that it was never aimed towards him. At the park, Adam spotted Matt, one of Denny’s best friends. The two had been in Cub Scouts together as kids, and Adam had helped them with their sailor’s knots project, his thick fingers interrupting the boys’ slipshod work, grumbling, “No, no, it goes over not under.” When Adam came closer, he noticed Matt’s eyes narrowing, and he slowed his approach, wary to make any sudden movements. The group of kids surrounding Matt, eyebrows pierced and heads shaved, broke apart when Adam drew nearer. Matt stuck his hands in his pockets. Adam said, “Where’s Denny?” Matt shrugged, said something muffled and so reminiscent of Denny that Adam cut him short. “I need to know, Matt, come on,” he said. “He hasn’t been home. It’s been a week.” That first night, the feeling that his belly was full of something hot and bitter, the bile rising in his throat, his mind a vacuum. Hannah sobbing next to him in the bed, but his hand so unbearably heavy that he couldn’t reach over and place it on her shoulder, the closest he could raise it was an inch or two above the mattress, so there it hovered in the air until she rolled out of bed and retreated to the couch downstairs. “I don’t know, haven’t seen him,” Matt muttered. Adam could remember Matt’s stubby, child fingers holding the rope all wrong wrong wrong. Over not under, the knot will simply unravel if you do it like that, and then what do you have? Nothing. Matt shrugged again, like that was the only thing he knew how to do really well and so he was going to stick to it. “Try the cops or something. They might help.” Adam shook his head, a scream expanding within him. “No!” A scatter of kids who were watching the skateboarders turned and looked at him. 79