Velveteen

Velveteen by Saul Tanpepper Read Free Book Online

Book: Velveteen by Saul Tanpepper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Saul Tanpepper
Tags: Horror
don’t know—”
    “I’ll test it, okay? Just give it back to me. Now !”

    Mama cried when she buried Ben Nicholas in the garden that night. I remember seeing the tears on her face in the moonlight. She cried just like she cried for my little brother Remy, and it made me so terribly sad that I couldn’t watch no more.
    I remember getting up and going outside much later. The moon was full and the grass was wet with dew and glistening like diamonds. I remember crying over the mound and digging my fingers in the soft dirt, but I don’t remember anything after that until the next morning, not bringing him inside, not tucking him into bed with me.
    When Mama came to wake me up, the sour smell of her sickness suddenly grew big and large and dark when she pulled back the blanket and saw him. Then she screamed.
    Daddy came and took him away without saying a word, and I couldn’t even argue with him because I feared the anger rolling off of Mama in huge black waves would come crashing down on me until I couldn’t breathe no more.
    She made me go and wash out my mouth and brush my teeth until my gums bled. Ben Nicholas should’ve been filthy, coming straight out of the dirt like that, but I don’t remember cleaning him either.

    In the days right after Mama came home from the hospital, I thought I knew why she’d been so sad and crying for Remy all the time, but now I know I didn’t really understand it at all. Because now that Ben Nicholas is gone, now I really know the sadness she felt, how big it is and how it both fills you and empties you out. After he died, all I wanted to do was die, but all I could do was cry because it was taking too long to happen.
    I guess it must’ve been the same with Daddy, not being able to understand, and maybe that’s why she’d made him leave, because although he knew about Mama’s sadness, he didn’t really understand how big it was or how deep inside her it went.
    I think he really only finally did understand it after I died.

    I stayed in bed for the next several days, except to go to the bathroom or to eat. Mama and Daddy had stopped going to work, but not because of Ben Nicholas (or any of the other animals), and also not so they could stay with me. They were scared.
    I could hear their voices, low and serious in the kitchen, not fighting anymore. They smelled only of fear then, not anger. And I guess they finally got tired of the endless ringing of the phone because they turned it off.
    But they couldn’t turn off the people waiting outside of our house.
    A couple times I got up out of bed to peek out the window, and I could see in the faces of them out there that the world was getting sicker and sicker.
    Eventually, with all our curtains closed all the time and no one going in or out through the front door, they must’ve gotten bored and wandered away. For maybe a day or two it was quiet.
    Then they started coming back again, except this time they weren’t shouting no more. They moaned.
    I went out into the garden one night after everyone had fallen asleep and I found where Mama had buried Ben Nicholas the second time and I dug him up again. His belly was fat and smooshy like a balloon and he smelled different, less like the sickness he’d had and more like dirt and old garbage. But I didn’t mind this smell, because it wasn’t so bad to me anymore.
    This time I didn’t bring him inside for Mama to find and take him away again. Instead, I made him a nice little secret bed behind the shed and covered him up in fresh leaves until I could figure out what to do. Poor, little Ben Nicholas. Dead, just like poor little Remy.
    So much death.
    Why couldn’t there be such a thing as a vampire rabbit?

    The people in front of the house looked just like the workers on the side of the road that time we’d gone to the beach. I watched them for the next couple days, keeping the window closed like Daddy told me to. Keeping the curtains closed and the lights off, too. I watched them

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