I’m worried about the smell. I see him trying to sleep on this brown and tan polka dotted couch. The brick wall behind him stretches up three stories to the ceiling, and his book bag is on the floor. He is curled up on this two-cushion couch, his black sweatpants and grey hoodie hiding his body from the universe. Every once and while he tugs at the bottom of his hoodie to make sure nothing laugh-worthy is revealed. His nose is pushed up against the back of the couch and I can’t stop thinking about it.
You never know what couches are going to smell like.
He grabbed my neck and lifted up my body. My feet dangled as my head plumped up under his hand.
“Did you tell your mother, Amos? Did you?”
I opened my mouth to speak but air couldn’t reach my lips. The pressure in my face rose. I grabbed at his hands, prying them off my neck, reaching my legs down to touch a morsel of flat land. He squeezed my neck a final time before letting me fall to the floor.
Gasping for air, I choked, “No, dad. I didn’t! I swear I didn’t!”
He reached for the lopsided dinner table, knocking over a chair, and grabbed a bottle of whiskey. He turned, reaching his arm behind his head, sending the bottle to my cheek.
I ducked, hearing the bottle clash against the wall, and ran down the hall to my room, slamming the door behind me. My fingers wouldn’t move as fast as my mind told them to. I messed with the lock on the door until I got it right and pulled a hoodie over my head, struggling to get my arms in as I grabbed my backpack. I pushed up my window and punched out the screen, flinging my backpack out the window, diving after it. I landed on the wet earth, but pushed myself up.
I heard a kick to the door and a series of angry yells. I took my backpack and ran. I ran down the street, forcing quick glances back at the dungeon that became smaller and smaller. I ran past the gas station where the pumps always had yellow bags over them claiming they were out of service. I ran past the bus stop where this woman with a cane and a mole on her cheek always sat. She never got on the bus when it came. I ran and ran until I saw my school in the distance.
I pushed open the double doors and walked in the quiet entrance as I huffed and puffed. The lady at the information desk stared at me, but I ignored her. I saw the couch in the far corner and focused on it as I walked, feeling the eyes of my peers digging into me. When I got there, I plopped my backpack down and lay down, turning away from the world as I snuggled into the sweat of my hoodie.
The smell thing drives me nuts, but I’m also pretty worried about his comfort level. The couch is half his height and his legs are scrunched up. And he’s surely going to have a terrible neck cramp when he gets up. Don’t even get me started on his dignity. Who sleeps in public anyways? Just go home, man.