Hands twist in the dirt while he sits in the schoolyard laughing with the few friends who have to wait, too. His smile so bright and his eyes so full – everyone loves him.

He hands in notes to the teacher, very prone to sickness. But he smiles and curls his shirt around him, fingertips peeking out of the sleeves. It’s a little loose, a little faded. He thinks it used to be his dads.

When the rest of his friends go home, he takes his time waking. For a while he pretends it’s okay and there will be hugs waiting for him. His heart hammers away in his chest and he thinks maybe he’s a mouse when he sneaks through the front door, creeping up the stairs.

He makes a little too much noise with the creak in the floorboard but he makes it to his room, curls up in the bed.

His desk the next day is empty – he came down with the flu.

A few days and he’s deemed healthy enough to return. Right as rain. His smile’s a little faded and he yanks his sleeves to his hands.

It’s okay, the bruise under his eye from playing catch with his dad. So were the lies that marked his arms, his chest.

He tells the best stories in class and gets praise from the teacher. She doesn’t know he’s been telling stories for a long time already. She doesn’t know the story he paints over with pretty lies.

Maybe he’ll be a writer one day. He waits for that like he waits for love to disappear on his arms.

Too bad he’s prone to sickness.


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