Dad dropped me off at Grandmother's house then drove away. He left me with my bag of toys, which was cool, but Mom was out of town and he said he needed the house to himself, so he drove me out to Grandma's house over in the next state. He said he'd be back in a couple weeks.

Grandma gave me a nice big hug when I walked inside. She looked kinda sad but she said she wasn't. She said she was really happy to see me. She asked me how I was doing and sat me down at her little table in the kitchen and cooked me a grilled cheese sandwich, my favorite meal.

While the stove crackled I stared out the window in the living room. I half-expected Dad to be back soon. Grandma's apartment was small and it smelled like lotion. The kitchen was barely big enough for me to get past her and get a soda from the fridge and she only had one bedroom, so she said I could either pull out the bed in the couch or sleep in her bed with her. I said I wanted to sleep on the couch like Dad did sometimes back at home. Grandma frowned a bit as I said that, flipping the sandwich over. She had let it blacken a bit too much, I think.

After I ate my sandwich Grandma told me we'd go to the carnival tomorrow. It was the last day it was going to be open and she thought we'd have a good time. I nodded. I'd never been to the carnival before. Dad took me to the park once, but it was windy and he and Mom were busy talking while I rode a swing by myself. They didn't look happy. I felt bad for making them come to the park while it was so windy. I feel bad for having to make Grandma cook me a sandwich and pull out the bed when she could have had the house all to herself like Dad. But maybe going to the carnival tomorrow would make her happier.


When I woke up next morning Grandma was coughing in bed.

“I'm sorry dear, I don't think I'll be well enough to take you to the carnival today.” She looked a little bit pale, I guess, though the lights were off so I didn't really know. I told her it was fine and I went back out to the living room and flopped onto the pullout bed. I pulled out my special edition He-Man figurine with the glow-in-the-dark sword and I had him fight Optimus Prime for the right to save the world.

“Skeletor was a much bigger threat than Megatron!” He-Man said. “Megatron was just a dumb robot!”

“Hey,” Optimus Prime said. “I'm a robot!”

“Yeah, but you're not dumb!” He-Man said.

“Oh, ok, that's cool then.” Then the two of them fought each other. They were pretty much neck-in-neck until I closed the curtains and He-Man's sword started glowing, then he just mopped the carpet with Optimus.

“Oh man you were right, you're a much cooler dude than I am. Go save the world He-Man!”

“Thanks Optimus Prime!” Then I tossed Optimus Prime away and I pulled out the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex stuffed doll that was hiding beneath the bed.

“Roooooooar!” T-Rex shouted out. He charged He-Man but He-Man's sword was still glowing so he beat down T-Rex in one hit. But then I opened the shades and He-Man's sword stopped glowing and the light made T-Rex powerful again. T-Rex smashed up He-Man, but right before he could completely smash him to bits Optimus Prime rushed in and beat up T-Rex for He-Man. He was metal so it didn't hurt as much when T-Rex bit him.

“Thanks for saving me Optimus Prime,” He-Man said.

“Oh don't worry about, I was just in the neighborhood.”

“But you know I had it all handled, you didn't need to save me.”

“Oh of course, I just thought I'd be nice since I owed you from when you saved me that one time.”

“Oh right I forgot about that. Well I guess we're even then.”

And then they rode off into the sunset. There really wasn't much else to do then so I just snuck into the kitchen and grabbed a soda to drink.


The next time the carnival was in town was when my Dad came by to take me to it. My uncle had moved in to the apartment with Grandma, so I had to sleep on the bed with Grandma and he took the couch. I had to do that for two days before Dad stopped by and took me to the carnival. I told him all about all the fun I had with the toys I had. He nodded a lot and smiled. He didn't say much about taking me back home, which I knew he was going to do.

We got to the carnival and there were a bunch of things to do, like ride the merry- go-round or shoot the targets with a water gun. Dad walked me around through the whole carnival and we did all sorts of really neat things. We had a blast, and I even won a few prizes, like a stuffed animal and some candy. Then we sat down for a while and ate because Dad said he was getting kinda winded. The food tasted great. After we ate he said we needed to head back because it would rain soon. He drove me back to Grandma's and we were walking inside. He still hadn't said anything about going home, which he was going to do, right? I started to wonder.

“I can't wait to go back home and see Mom,” I said as we got to the front door of Grandma's apartment. Dad didn't reply. “We're going back today, right?” Still nothing. Dad opened the door and walked us inside.

“Welcome back boys,” Grandma said from the kitchen. She was cooking something. Uncle was in the living room, drinking beer and watching the game. “How was the carnival?” Grandma asked.

“We had a good time,”Dad said.

“I hope you didn't get too hot in your dark suit, dear. It was awfully sunny today.”

“Oh, I was fine.”

They talked a bit more but I didn't pay attention to them. I showed Uncle my stuffed animal that I won. He took it and looked at it and gave it back and smiled and went back to watching the game.

“Leave your Uncle be,” Dad said. “He's trying to get important stuff done.”

“Fuck you,” Uncle said. “Get the fuck out of here.”

“Don't talk to me like that in front of my son.”

“Then take your son with you. Don't just abandon him on your mother's doorstep.”

“Now, now, boys, settle down,” Grandma called out from the living room. “Shut up, ma,” Uncle shouted. “Leave me the fuck alone, John.”

I felt Grandma's hand on my shoulder as she led me away from the living room. She went with me to one of the rooms in the back of the apartment and she closed the door and played with me and my stuffed animal. They shouted for a while in the living room. A long while.

“Why are they fighting, Grandma?” I asked.

“Oh, that's just what boys do,” Grandma replied.

I heard the door slam right after the shouting ended. Grandma left to check the food and apparently Dad had left. I didn't see him again for several more weeks when he finally took me home. Mom was gone. Apparently she went to Heaven to be with Jesus, though Dad sometimes said New Jersey instead when he was on the phone.