Your father could juggle five red balls at a time. And make them disappear. The summer your pet salamander escaped its glass confine of a world, your father announced he found it hiding behind the tool shed. He imitated the way it closed its eyes. You tried to laugh, but wondered whether this was really funny. When your vision grew narrow, your father bought you a kaleidoscope. This was what you’ve been missing, he said staring out the kitchen window, while microwavable popcorn burst at more frequent intervals. You kept telling him how you kept dreaming of bringing plastic flowers to your mother’s grave site, how the earth had sealed her over, how you woke up believing dirt = forgetfulness. After he died in the instant of a random hit-and-run, you grew up and wide. He spread everywhere. In every scrap of conversation, you discovered one of father’s words and phrases. You tried to shrink the world, placed yourself on travel restrictions so father would no longer be ubiquitous, could be reduced to a familiar but unique essence. You wanted him all to yourself again, wished him to say only the words you wanted to hear. Or maybe, you just need new glasses. Maybe you should remain bare-foot and out-of-reach. Maybe you should wait, listening to the walls, echoing of bouncing balls, the muffled baritone voice of what was once your favorite TV clown.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne's School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com