It was all over the Sunday morning news. They had recovered a girl who had been kidnapped six years ago.
Linda hurried upstairs to check on Timothy. The soft hum of the allergen filter system filled his room. She watched the gentle rise and fall of his breath. Almost ten years old and he still looked like an infant when he slept.
She fixed him his favorite organic GMO-free breakfast, slathered him in sunscreen, fastened his bicycle helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and gloves, affixed his UV sunglasses and applied chapstick, SPF-15. Then they sat in the kitchen. High pollen threatened for most of the day, but there was a promised break in the levels from 4:00 to 4:15. So they waited.
Afternoon finally came and Timmy rode his bicycle back and forth along the twenty foot driveway, with Linda jogging beside him, hissing, “Slow down! Slow down, you’ll kill yourself!”
Their fun was cut short when she thought she saw a bee. When they got inside, she checked him for ticks.
A parent sued the State when her kid fell off the swings, so the playgrounds had been shut down. The schools banned metal lunch boxes, jewelery, video games, and all manner of singing, as it was hard to know which lyric would be insulting or inflammatory. When little Benjy Horowitz skinned his knee during recess, the Board of Ed outlawed running. Then gym class. Gabbie Mann choked on a grape while laughing. No teacher could perform the Heimlich since they weren’t allowed to touch the children, so she died. Her mother, who had failed to cut her grapes into quarters, was put on trial for involuntary manslaughter. But the schools outlawed laughing just the same.
Then one Monday morning a nine year old in another district came into class with a semi-automatic and shot eleven classmates and three teachers. No one knows why.
Linda got on the phone right away. “Yes, that’s right Principal Brown…no, Timmy won’t be coming back. I’ll be homeschooling him from now on.”
Linda scurried upstairs to wake Timmy and tell him the good news – he would never have to leave the house again.
But instead of her son, she found a large cocoon. Through the hard walls, she could see the faint outline of his body. His knees pulled into his chest, his arms tucked against his torso, thumb in his mouth. For the first time in nearly ten years, Linda felt she could breathe. She stroked the protective shell of the chrysalis, then placed a loving kiss over what should have been his head.
Before she left the room, she put the safety bed rail in place in case he rolled. She would get some ropes and strap him down for extra measure. Or better yet, some chains.
AUTHOR BIO: Karin Terebessy holds a Masters Degree in Literature and Creative Writing which looks really nice hanging on the wall in a pretty frame. She makes her living as a yoga teacher.