They scraped the gum off the bus seats. I never expected the chewed pastel globs to stick there forever. It’s just gum. I thought of chewing up wads and wads of pink and covering the seats whole, just to scream to everyone on the bus that you were here.

Would you be here in time for flowers and Valentine’s Day? We used to pick dandelions and collect pinecones down at the Roland Trail. I hoped we would prick, prick, prick our fingers on the pinecones and coat them in glitter and paint how we always do.

The next seasons came even when I begged them to slow in time for your arrival. I decorated pinecones with my mom in the spring and gave them funny faces. We hung them above the kitchen table. The teachers stopped calling your name. Now it’s just mine. It was Teddy then Pat, then Teddy, Teddy, Teddy.

The day after Easter was the first time I heard someone else say your name since the bus seats had no gum.

“I heard that Pat got sent away to his mom’s house,” Annie clicked her tongue. She was grabbing everyone’s pickles off our lunch trays. Annie ate our pickles and Joel brought us Pokemon cards. It was a system.

“He’s like Robbie,” Joel said, “I miss Robbie.”

“I forgot about Robbie,” I said quietly. Robbie left last year, he seemed to be best friends with Joel. Back then I didn’t know either of them very well.

“Makes sense. You never talked to anyone but Pat.”

“I miss Pat.”

“Well, I like that you talk to us now,” Joel smiled.

It wasn’t long before summer appeared and I was sticking to my sheets at night. I’ve been scribbling with sidewalk chalk, and sometimes your dad even passes me while he walks your dog.

“It’s too hot! I’m covered in sweat!” Joel whined and threw himself down onto the grass. Suddenly, he sat up again.

“Do you remember Pat’s pool?” his voice rose with giddy excitement. “With the waterfall and the floaties?”

“Of course I do,” I replied. I missed that big sloped pool. I missed your mom bringing us grapes and cheese. I wondered if you eat a lot of grapes and cheese now without us, in a new pool, in a new house with your mom.

“What are you drawing anyway?” Joel rolled over onto his stomach and poked his stubby fingers into my colorful chalk dust on the cement. “It looks… blobby.”

“It’s kind of blobby, I guess,” I laughed. For a while after you left, I had this desperate need to look and be down in the dumps. I felt like if I wasn’t grumpy every second, I wouldn’t truly be sad that you were gone.

School started up again and the flowers I sketched in sidewalk chalk had long been washed away by the rain. Mom said you were never coming back every time I asked. The other night our dads got in a fight, but I didn’t see much. Your dad’s truck headlights beamed through my window, and he yelled something inaudible. My dad came out next, and I had to crack my window open to hear their hushed argument. Something about your dad getting clean. I never knew your dad was dirty.

I hope your new house with your mom is clean, I hope everything is clean. People don’t talk about you so much anymore, but I bring you up all the time. Now our teachers say Teddy and Joel. But I miss Pat, then Teddy. Pat, Pat, Pat.

Powered by Froala Editor