PAINT IT BLACK

It is raining. Little Joseph, only four years old, is riding in the back of a big black car, his mother Carla by his side. They are following a long flower-covered car. Mommy said daddy’s in that car but Joseph can’t see him. Their car stops; other cars arrive. Everyone is dressed in black. They’re all crying. Everyone follows some men carrying a long black box into a grassy field. ‘Is this a picnic?’ Joseph wonders. The men lower the box into a large hole in the ground and mommy tells Joseph to “say goodbye to daddy.” He is confused but follows her lead,  tossing a flower into the hole. They return to the car. Carla lights a cigarette, smiles and tells Joseph daddy won’t be coming back. Joseph is sad and doesn’t understand why daddy would leave without saying goodbye. Looking out the window he waves bye bye with his little hand. 

It is raining .. again. Joseph wants to play with mommy but she says “No .. I’m busy on the phone”. He goes exploring the cellar where there are lots of boxes .. great for climbing and building. Joseph spots a small box among the big ones and decides it’s perfect for the top of his fort. Just as he’s placing it on the tippy top, it slips from his hands, scattering torn  photos of daddy. There’s a newspaper clipping, too, but he can only read a few words – ‘BOAT’ .. ‘LOST’ .. and ‘ROMANO’ – his surname. Joseph doesn’t understand any of it but he instinctively knows mommy would be mad at him. He puts the box back where he found it and goes upstairs. 

It is raining but Joseph hears laughter outside. From the window he can see mommy and a man kissing under a tree. The man takes a suitcase from his car and he and mommy run to the house. They throw open the door, dripping wet, still laughing. Joseph thinks it’s all very strange for grown ups to act this way. Carla looks at Joseph and scolds, “Naughty boy! Don’t you know it’s rude to stare?” But Joseph just stands there, looking at them. “Well, silly goose”, purrs mommy, “say hello to my friend. He’s your daddy now.” Laughing and hugging, they ran up the stairs, leaving Joseph alone in the hallway. Slowly he walks to the window and starts to cry. Will it ever stop raining? 

NAR © 2018

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