Jack is nodding his head at me. He is so slow. He is my best friend. I don’t have any other friends except for Jack because I am special. They tell me that I have a slow brain. Even though I am 17, I am not smart. I do not see things that other, normal people see. They will sometimes laugh at me because I do not understand. They make me do things that make them laugh. I like to make people laugh, but they are laughing mean. They laugh because I am stupid, not because I am funny.
I put my finger in Jack’s box. He is a turtle that I found by the little stream that goes past my house. Mom does not like him, but I am careful. I clean out his box a lot and I make sure that he never escapes. I would die if Jack escaped, but he is so slow that I am not worried about anything. He slowly reaches to touch my finger with his nose. He is so funny and he makes me laugh.
I am still laughing when mom walks into my room. I am on the floor next to Jack’s box and I have to roll over to see her. She smiles at me and tells me that Mr. Hackney is here. I am in love with Mr. Hackney. He is my teacher and he is beautiful.
I lied. I have two friends. Mr. Hackney is one of them. Jack and Mr. Hackney. Mr. Hackney teaches me about English and Science and Math and History. Sometimes he will play the piano that is in my living room. I love Mr. Hackney when he plays the piano. He is so good at it. Sometimes I just lay on the couch and listen to him play the piano.
I go with mom downstairs. Mr. Hackney is already setting up all of my teaching stuff on the table for me. I am so happy to see him. I tell Mr. Hackney that I am going to marry him. He just laughs and tells me that he already has a girlfriend. I tell him that I have a turtle. He asks me what my turtle’s name is and I say, “Jack.” But Mr. Hackney already knows my turtle’s name. Mr. Hackney is so funny, too. That is why I love him, because he makes me feel beautiful when he plays the piano and because he is so funny.
We are working on my history when mom comes in and asks me what I want for lunch. I love lunch. I am so excited that I jump out of my chair and Mr. Hackney laughs.
“I want to eat macaroni and cheese!” I scream. Macaroni and cheese is my favorite meal ever. I eat it for every meal. Even breakfast. My doctor—I call her Marie, because that is her name—says that I eat too much macaroni and cheese, but I tell her she doesn’t eat enough of it.
Mom laughs and goes back out into the kitchen. Me and Mr. Hackney finish up with my history and I say, “Aren’t you excited for macaroni and cheese?”
“No, I brought my own lunch.”
“But you knew that we would eat macaroni and cheese so why did you bring your own lunch? Mom is already making it. You should eat some!” I am mad at Mr. Hackney. I think he knows that I am mad at him because he is quiet for a little while.
“I know that your mom is making you lunch, but I don’t want to eat macaroni and cheese right now.”
“Well, that is stupid.” I am really mad.
“That isn’t nice to say to someone.”
“Well, you are not nice.”
“You need to apologize.”
“No, YOU DO!” I am crying right now, and I am mad at Mr. Hackney. I am running out of the room when mom yells at me to come back.
Then I say it.
A naughty word.
Both mom and Mr. Hackney stop talking and stare at me. I look at them both and then I say it again.
“Where did you hear that?” Mom asks me.
“I heard it from Jack!” I crack up. Mom and Mr. Hackney are angry. They do not believe me, but I am lying so that is okay.
“Go upstairs to your room.” Mom is really mad. I can tell because her voice sounds mad. I think that I should probably go upstairs now.
Mom comes up later, and she is not so angry now.
“Where did you hear words like that?”
“Um… I don’t know.” I do not want to say that I heard it from Dad because Mom does not like Dad and if she knew that I heard it from him, she might not let me see him.
“Did your father teach you those words?”
I do not talk. I just look down at my bed. “No.”
“Don’t lie to me. Did your father teach you those words?”
“Um…Mom, yes, but, um, do not let me not see him anymore!”
Mom is quiet. “Mr. Hackney left. He was very disappointed. You know he is moving right?”
“Well, he said that today was probably your last day together, but that when you were ready to say goodbye, just let him know and he will come over.”
I am crying now; I don’t want Mr. Hackney to leave.
“And I don’t think I want you to go to your dad’s as much anymore. That’s not to say that you can’t go, just not as much.”
I start to scream. I am so mad. Mom is taking away my daddy, and Mr. Hackney is leaving me, too. I am screaming so much that I don’t notice when Mom walks out of my room. I look at Jack and he’s looking at me. He is not mad. Jack is never mad. I am so mad at mom, and dad, and Mr. Hackney. I am mad at Jack, too. I go over to his box. I pick him up. I am so mad.
Then I do it. I do it and I cannot even say what I did. I cannot believe that I did it. I am not allowed to see my dad. Or Mr. Hackney. And now I cannot even see Jack anymore. I am crying so hard and now I am not mad. I am sad. Mom comes in and she does not look mad either. She looks at Jack. She is very sad.
“Oh, what did you do?”
I cannot say any words. Mom does not get mad. I go to my bed and I lay down. Mom sits down on my bed, too, next to me. She puts her hand on my head and pets me. It makes me feel better, like a dog. Dogs are happy. Dogs do not throw their turtles at the wall. Dogs do not scream. Dogs do not say naughties. Dogs are happy and they eat and they sleep and they play. I want to be a dog because dogs are not slow and people do not make fun of them. People love dogs. Dogs are smart and their dads love them. Dogs do not have teachers who leave them. I think that if I was a dog, I would be a good dog.
Mom keeps petting me and I fall asleep because I am really, really tired.
I wake up and it is time for dinner. The sun is really bright and it is coming into my room through my window. Outside there is a bunch of kids and they are really happy. It makes me happy. I hear mom yell at me so I will come downstairs. I go and she is happy, too. She hugs me and says to me that she loves me. I say that I love her, too. She tells me that Jack is gone and Mr. Hackney is gone. She asks me if I remember Mr. Hackney leaving. I do. She asks me if I remember what happened to Jack. I don’t. She says that he had to go because he was missing his dad just like me. I understand. I think that me and Jack are the same, kind of. He misses his dad. I miss mine. He wants to live with his dad. Me too. So even though Jack is gone, and Mr. Hackney is gone, and I am not allowed to see my dad anymore, it is okay.
I am okay.