Barry Graham

I know Daddy loves me the most because I’m the only one he saved. I can swim fast like a dolphin or a rainbow trout or the fastest fish in the deepest ocean and Momma drove the car in the water and I’m the only one he saved. The breakfast smells so good that Savannah cooked. She makes all the best things for breakfast now that Momma’s in the water and sometimes they are too hot or too cold and sometimes I eat them or sometimes I save mine for Daddy even though it makes me hungry later but I have to because he saved me and if I don’t then next time he will save someone else he likes better. Someone who gives him all of their pancakes and orange juice or someone who folds his socks and writes down all the notes from the news shows that he used to watch but doesn’t any more. I like to write down all the important words that people say and find out all the things there are to miss. I miss lots of things since Daddy saved me but he loves me and I am the fastest fish and I’m the only one he saved.

All of the important words today were rain and children and money so I wrote them down and drawed pictures of raindrops and birds were flying slow through the raindrops and I drawed me and Daddy standing in the raindrops and holding hands and Daddy had an umbrella and I want Daddy to know it is me in the picture and not Savannah or not the other important children that I wrote down for him. I wish I had colors for the umbrella so it could be red for Daddy because that’s his favorite color now. It used to be blue until Momma drove the car into the water and now it’s red and I’m glad because red is my favorite too and green is Savannah’s favorite and I hope all the important children have favorite colors that are the same as their favorite dad. On the next picture I drawed more raindrops until my head was all the way under and we could swim and swim and we were happy. Me and Daddy are happy now that Momma is in the water but Savannah cries and yells at Daddy for loving me so much and for saving me. She says that she hates us and wishes we were in the water instead of Momma and sometimes Daddy cries when she says this and hits her in the face the hardest I ever seen him hit anyone. When he hits her in the face I draw more pictures and put them on his pillow so he sees them before he sleeps and he remembers to save me next time we drive the car into the water.

I wish Daddy’s pillows were my pillows so my head would stop hurting in the morning. Savannah still makes me the best breakfast even though she hates me and says she loves me at the same time and the syrup never gets too thick on the pancakes before school or before the sun rises red and pink and orange across the sky of my bedroom window. That’s when I wake up. It’s bright and beautiful and my friends aren’t the same friends because my school isn’t the same school and all the classrooms and lockers and teachers smell like hair and plastic when they’re burning on fire. Some things like marshmallows and gasoline smell good when they are burning on fire but most things smell rotten like my new school. The doctor said my brain didn’t have enough air when Daddy saved me out of the water and that’s why I have to go to a school that Savannah and my friends don’t have to go to. Balloons and birds and trees don’t have enough air sometimes but they are still beautiful on earth and still make people happy my Daddy says. He says that’s how I make people feel and how we should always try to make people feel good. Everyday. When my head hurts in the morning God doesn’t want me to feel good I think. Savannah says God never wants me to feel good again because how much Daddy loves me and I love him and how happy we are since Momma drove into the water.

Daddy drives me to my new school in his ice cream truck after the bright sun makes everyone happy and it’s my favorite place to be because everyone is so nice to me and Daddy when we are in the ice cream truck. I eat lots and lots of ice cream on the way to my new school. My favorite is chocolate ice cream cones and sprinkles and little smashed up cookies and I get to eat all of it by myself and don’t have to share. I like to share but there is never anyone to share with. Daddy never drove me to my new friends and my new teachers in my new ice cream truck before Momma drove in the water. Now since he saved me and my brain doesn’t have enough air he takes me to school every day and lets me play Pop Goes the Weasel when we stop at the stop sign in front of my new school and everyone who looks at me looks at me so happy and laughing and I know it makes everyone happy so I laugh too and the music is so beautiful and all the important children like ice cream and they all have their own special favorite flavors but Daddy says I’m the most special because none of their favorite dads have a big truck full of ice cream like we do and I laugh and laugh and eat and eat and sprinkles and chocolate drip all over my face and my hands and my dress and I laugh and laugh because it makes everyone happy and everyone laughs and my ice cream is so cold and delicious all over my face and hands and dress when Daddy drops me off at my new school. Savannah told Daddy its too much ice cream to let me eat and I hate her when she says it and she cries and cries and I laugh and laugh for happiness.

When my favorite Daddy picks me up from school and his ice cream truck is gone and I wonder if he drove it in the water or if all the ice cream melted and he didn’t want me to be sad because I was so happy in the morning when all my happy friends laughed at me too. He says he’s sorry there is no ice cream and he says sorry alot and I listen because if I don’t listen he will not save me and he says we will get some more after we pick up Savannah at my old school where my old friends are standing outside when we pull up. I wave to them and smile and happy and no one waves back and Daddy says they will wave tomorrow but today they are sad because they miss me and I miss them and Savannah slams the door when she sits in the backseat and I am very quiet and listen. We ride home together and alone and I write down more of Daddy’s favorite notes for his shows and some of the important words are trumbone and computers and jobs and Savannah is screaming in the kitchen and I try not to hear her but she is mad and she hates me since Daddy loves me so much. Savannah screams when she sees Daddy love me and I hate her when my head doesn’t have enough air and I love her too and life and earth and happy children are beautiful all the time.

Barry Graham is the author of Nothing or Next to Nothing and The National Virginity Pledge. He also edits DOGZPLOT.