Posted on: March 18, 2013

Davy hadn’t smiled in three months. He hadn’t cried either. He showed no emotion since the night his parents sat him down and delicately announced that they were getting a divorce. It was a tough concept for a child to grasp, especially when that child was just starting to learn basic addition and subtraction. Soon, one parent would be subtracted from Davy’s household, adding one permanent hurdle to his emotional development.

But that was an issue Davy would have to overcome through several decades of therapy. For now, his only objective was to stay strong for his little brother; his little brother who happened to be eight inches tall, with moveable joints and a kung-fu grip.

Davy’s parents were never keen on giving him a sibling. Well, his mom wasn’t. If it were up to her, Davy would’ve been sacrificed in the name of stem cell research, but his dad had other plans. After many heated arguments, which Davy overheard through the walls of his mother’s uterus, his dad won the great baby debate. Who could’ve guessed that just six years later, Davy would hear the same raised voices through the walls of he and his parents’ adjoining bedrooms? Anyone who knew them, for starters, but it’s always easier to spot a car wreck from the sidewalk.

Those boisterous bedroom disputes were eventually brought before a judge, where, after dredging up the aforementioned debate and a few other defamatory tales, it was decided that Davy’s dad would remain his primary caretaker. The war was won, in Davy’s dad’s eyes, but the reconstruction was just beginning.

Try as he might, Davy’s dad couldn’t expel his ex-wife’s aura from the three-bed, two-bath battlefield where they fought for several years. The stains of fallen tears and echoes of shouted f-words haunted every room from the foyer to the attic. He had no choice but to put Fort Divorce up for sale.

The following Saturday, Davy’s dad signed a lease for a two-bedroom apartment on the other side of town. That Sunday, Davy, his dad and his little brother crammed into the cockpit of a yellow moving truck and headed toward their temporary residence.

“This is exciting, huh?” Davy’s dad asked in a futile attempt to solicit a smile.

Davy nodded his head in indifference.

“Hey, what do you say we stop for ice cream on the way?”

Davy nodded his head in indifference.

“I bet your little action guy is getting hungry?”

Davy stopped nodding his head.

“His name is Jacob,” he sternly responded.

“Well hi, Jacob! I’m Davy’s dad.”

“He knows.”

Aside from his ice cream order, Davy remained silent for the duration of the ride. He quietly licked away at his lemon sorbet, occasionally tapping Jacob’s face against the treat to give him a taste.

“This is it,” Davy’s dad announced as they pulled into the cookie-cutter apartment complex.

He grabbed a set of keys from the cup holder and dangled them outside of the driver-side window as they approached the sensor. The large iron slats slid out of their way like an elevator door.

“It’s safe, like a CASTLE,” he analogized, trying to pique Davy’s imagination.

They drove through the front entrance past a bean-shaped pool where bikini-clad coeds caught skin cancer as middle-age men stole glances.

“And look, a POOL,” he pointed out. “I can teach you and Jacob how to swim!”


Davy’s dad stopped making observations for fear of being demoted back to apathetic nods. He optimistically guided their rental truck through the maze of identical buildings until he spotted their empty patio. He backed into a parking spot right beneath their balcony and searched for the words to keep Davy’s spirits at “cool” level.

“Home sweet home!”

Davy took a moment to assess his surroundings.

“This isn’t our home,” he answered.

“It can be.”

“No it can’t.”

“Why’s that?”

“There’s no mom.”

Of all the things Davy could’ve said, that verbal dagger cut the deepest. Davy’s dad hopped out of the truck and filled his nostrils with air before tears could breach the surface. He held his breath as he walked around the front bumper to help Davy and Jacob out of the truck. He continued holding Davy’s hand as they ascended the flight of stairs leading to their new abode. Davy took the same precaution with Jacob.

“Well, here it is,” Davy’s dad said as he ushered the brothers through the door, their faces illuminated by the yellow walls of the entryway.

Davy hesitantly lifted a foot over the door rail like a dog preparing to walk on sand for the first time.

“You stay up here and decide which room is yours,” instructed Davy’s dad. “I’m going to go downstairs and grab some of the lighter things before your uncle shows up, okay?”

Davy nodded his head in accordance.

The tears Davy’s dad had been restraining escaped as he descended the steps. Once he reached the truck he shut himself in the back and took a seat on their sofa until he regained composure.

Davy’s dad was too full of hate and determination to cry during the custody proceedings, but now, surrounded by relics of his failed marriage, he was formally introduced to the loneliness of single parenthood.

He sobbed until he realized he left Davy unattended, Jacob not included. He climbed out of the truck, grabbed a floor lamp and headed towards the apartment. When he reached the top of the stairs he heard a sound he hadn’t heard in months, laughter. He quietly approached the door and opened it with the caution of a teenager sneaking in past curfew.

As the apartment came into view, Davy’s dad saw streaks of yellow liquid flying through the kitchen like lightening bolts. He saw Davy standing in the middle of the living room with Jacob in one hand and an open canister of touch-up paint in the other. And for the first time in three months he saw a smile on his son’s face. 

Photograph by: Jaemin Riley
Written by: Mark Killian

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