House Arrest
and smooth,
sometimes it vibrates or beeps
and she ignores it because we’re talking
or, really, she’s talking.
But Dad never ignored his phone
that was also rectangular and flat,
shiny and smooth,
and never far from his hand.
It had games on it
and beeps from doctors and people at work,
and reminders for Levi’s appointments.
This is kind of like the heart of the family ,he said once
holding it up
as it chirped with messages.
Everything circulates through this phone.
Cool, huh? And I said, Cool .
And I was so stupid
on the rainy day when he went to the pharmacy
to pick up Levi’s meds.
So stupid.
Because I noticed he’d left his phone
right there on the kitchen counter
black and smooth.
He’d left the heart of the family
right there in the open
with nothing but a dying battery.
And I should have known it was a clue.
I should have known
if he could leave the heart of the family
he could leave us, too.
That’s what I think about
when I think about my father.
Can I use the computer now?

    She thought she was being sneaky,
that I wouldn’t notice the picture
back on the wall.
The one with me
and Dad
and a football in the air
frozen in a moment of time
so long ago.
But I noticed.
When she got home from work
and saw the picture,
saw the newly drawn devil horns
and evildoer mustache
and vampire teeth
all on Dad’s face . . .
She noticed.
But all she said was
Fair enough. And then we ate dinner
smiling into our spaghetti.

    Who is in charge of that Carnival thing?
The Carnival of Giving?
Why does it have such a dumb name?
Why can’t it be the
Secretly Put Money in This Envelope Celebration
or the
Congrats, You Won the Fake Lottery Party
or the
Shut Up and Take the Money Fiesta?
I’ve been to the Carnival before.
The people who are getting the money give speeches
on a stage,
a stage filled with balloons.
They smile and wave
and take all the money back to their
homeless dogs or
nonexistent skate park or
library with not enough books.
I’ve never seen a family make those speeches.
I’ve never seen just three people get the money.
I mean, we’re not a charity,
so it’s not even possible.
I should throw this flyer away.

    They’ve found us more hours. At first I didn’t know what Mom meant.
They’ve found us more hours?
A secret group of time-pausing elves?
Do we really need more hours?
Aren’t the days long enough?
Won’t we get older faster?
Won’t we be more tired?
Who actually needs more hours?
More nursing hours, Timothy. I smiled, said:
Maybe Marisol could just move in. It was a joke.
But Mom’s face crumpled.
It just caved in on itself.
Marisol can’t work full time.
The nursing agency will send someone new. Wait.
No more Marisol? Just like that?
Is this from the conversation I had with Mrs. B?
Could she have called the nursing people?
Changed things up just like that?
What have I done?
I really do need a time machine now,
so I can go back in time and never open
my big mouth.

WEEK 2 2
    I robbed a bank yesterday
and ran so fast
no one could catch me.
It was because of these kicks, James.
These shoes you got me.
They were like hurricane-force winds,
blowing me through the streets.
And I even let some of the money
driiiiift behind me
like those streams of exhaust
crisscrossing the sky
when airplanes zoom off to faraway places.
I wanted to say thank you to the police for
being sooooo sloooooow.
I wanted to say thank you to the people for
cheering as I ran past.
I wanted to say thank you to you, James,
for giving me the world’s fastest shoes.
Good thing you can’t go to juvie for a dream, right?

    You know I’m twelve, right?
Seventh grade? I change trachs in my spare time? Rob banks in my dreams?
Mom just laughed.
Shook her head.
She rang the doorbell.
I don’t need a babysitter. Mom’s eyebrows went up.
Tell that to the judge, T-man.
Don’t call me T-man. José’s mom answered

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