Year 12:

“We don’t have to do this. ”

“Yes we do.” Dan’s hair was slicked back and he was wearing a crisp collared shirt. Carole’s death had done something to him. It brought him back to a son that no longer wanted him.

“Don’t you think I’m getting a little old?” John twisted in his chair. Every one of his limbs twitched uncomfortably. He had been inside all day. What he really needed was a run, not a slow leisurely walk with the pretense of getting free candy.

“You’re short. No one’s going to say anything.”

John wasn’t worried about what other people would say. He didn’t care about any of them anyway. But his mind felt too tight, like a rubberband stretched beyond its capacity.

“Go change.”

“I don’t want to wear that costume.”

“Then you should have picked one out when we were at the store. You get what you get now.”

John pulled the costume over his clothes. “Seriously? A jail bird.”

“Well,” his dad shrugged. “You know what they say.”

John felt the heat rising in his cheekbones. He had gotten in more fights that he could count. In the beginning, everyone said it was a product of what he was going through. They said he’d get over it. They never said when it would happen.