I was in a neurosurgeon’s waiting room awaiting Aaro’s test results—
he’d slammed his skull on the basketball court & his pupils pulsed
cartoony, black spirals & asterisks, & loony exclamations. His dizzy
days had placed us in the clipboard’s teeth, snapping. NBA season—
the finals—& Doctor Phil was interviewing a boy who’d killed his
mother—bashed his mother’s head with a sledgehammer & set her
house on fire.
“It’s ritual,” said the doc, “It’s self-soothing.”
To bash someone’s head? To set a house on fire?
Okay, Doc. Okay, America. Okay.
I forget how daytime gnaws us till evening if we linger too long in its
jaws. Everything wrong with us seemed to glow from the insides of
a flat screen. I wondered what was up next? A razor? A switchblade?
A machete? Little bits of bone? The boy’s little blonde brother, nearly
Okay, Homemakers. Okay, Ratings.
A nurse walked Aaro to an exam room. Free throws & foul shots
chatter. Winners & losers. Favorite players. LeBron James slept
somewhere between games. How many times had Aaro hit his head in
the past few years?
“Bring it in,” Aaro said when I joined him. “Chill,” he said.
Did this mean he was the kind of son who’d hug his mother tightly
before turning away? The kind of kid who shrugged off blond boys,
the kind of kid who’d leave home at twelve & assemble a band &
adorn his fro with feathers & cowries & swear he learned the birds &
the bees from Netflix, Grand Theft Auto & the Internet?
Okay, Worst Fears.
What was the last thing Aaro remembered? A thwack. The court’s
distant border. I forget how competitive he gets. I forget how fragile.
Diagnosis: no games for three weeks. Supervised exercise. Rest. Okay,
Inevitable. My mother didn’t care much for television. “Turn that stuff
off,” she’d say. “Talk to me.” I forget how mustache begins in shadow,
how hairlines fade gradually. What makes a child turn? One year,
Cleveland fans burned LeBron’s jersey.
Okay, Christians. Okay, Cavaliers.
I forget how every son leaves us at least once. I forget how quiet a
house without television. Son, don’t bring any spiders home. Or
lovers or trash talk. I forget how we bring those, anyway. I forget
how hypnotic the television.
Eat your dinner, son. Eat your dinner.
Copyright © 2020 Yona Harvey
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.
Used with the permission of Four Way Books.