His Father’s Window
Gabe stood outside his father’s bedroom window with the grasshopper’s wings pinched tightly between his fingers. The insect was slightly longer than one of the boy’s fingers, and lined smoothly with black and yellow. Its mouth gnawed at the air and dripped a juice the color of tobacco spit.
The bedroom blinds made it hard for him to see through the window, but he could just make out his father’s foot, pink and swollen, dangling heavily over the side of his parent’s bed. Broken, purple veins shadowed just under the skin. Black hairs curled off the knuckles of each toe.
He raised his eyes to the sun and saw that it was just past noontime. His father would sleep three or four more hours and get up, eat a dinner of eggs and buttered grits, and head out to work the night shift. Gabe couldn’t wait that long; he tapped the window.
“Dad,” he said. His voice was faint, vanishing the instant it cleared his tongue. The grasshopper kicked its thorny back legs. Gabe squeezed tighter.
“Dad!” he shouted. “Look at this trick Kevin at school showed me.” He stared past his hazy reflection at the unconcerned foot. “Look at this.”
He flicked the back of the grasshopper’s head three times. Its legs stretched stiff and went slack.
“Watch,” he said. “Here goes.”.
He pulled the insect’s head away from its body and held it up to the win- dow. Dangling from the head was the grasshopper’s wet, brown spine.
“This is something, huh?”
Gabe noticed the grasshopper’s eyes; they looked the same as they had a moment before, no difference, both dead and alive.