Still Eight

If you ask me how old I am I will tell you a lie. I’m not nine yet. But I will be next week, so it’s only going to be a lie for a little while longer. Lying about stuff like that isn’t so bad. But it is bad when you lie about stealing or breaking things.

I don’t think what I told my mom today was the bad kind of lie.

She asked me what happened to my stuffed dog. I told her “I lost it.” Then she got all quiet and it looked like she was gonna cry but she didn’t. I think she used up all her crying when my baby sister died.

I didn’t cry.

I’m not going to tell you the name of my stuffed dog. That would mean I miss him. And I don’t. I’m too old for stuffed animals. James said so and I agree with him. He’s already nine. Plus, he’s my best friend. You have to listen to your best friend. Except when he’s wrong. But he’s not this time.

James has an older brother named Scar. That’s not his real name. I don’t know what his real name is. Probably something like Stewart. Scar smiles a lot but I don’t like his smile because it looks like a lie. You don’t have to listen to your best friend’s brother. Unless he’s really big.

There’s a metal barrel behind my house. It’s in the far corner, next to the telephone pole. It’s not a regular barrel, it’s something called an incinerator. That’s a big word that means you can burn stuff in it. Every 4th of July my dad would sneak me out by the barrel after dark without mom knowing and he would toss in firecrackers. They were really loud and made the fire jump and the flames looked like monsters. At first that made me afraid of the incinerator. But then my friend James showed me how you could throw things into it from a safe distance. Things like sticks and rocks and marshmallows (the little ones because I know where Mom keeps those in the corner cabinet and she lets me have them for snacks sometimes). And then we found these seed things. They looked like flat brown bananas and they fell off of a big tree. The tree was in my neighbor’s yard but since some of the seed things fell into our yard and we had to rake them up, it’s not like we were stealing. The cool thing was that they sounded like popcorn when we threw them into the incinerator.

I said I used to be scared of the incinerator. I’m not anymore. But until yesterday I hadn’t gone in the back yard by myself for a long time because of what Scar said.

James was sick one day about a month ago but his brother wasn’t and he was waiting by the incinerator after school ‘cause Scar runs real fast and I always walk slow. When I saw him there, I just said “hi” and kept walking. He told me to come over for a sec. I figured he had found something cool to throw into the incinerator and I was a little scared not to do what he said because he’s really big. When I got there, he said “watch this” then unzipped his pants and peed against the incinerator. It made this cool hissing sound and I thought it was sorta funny, but then he said “you try it” and I didn’t like his smile so I said “no thanks” and he told me “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” He sounded just like one of the bad guys on The Lone Ranger. I ran really fast back to my house and he didn’t follow me ‘cause my mom was home but he shouted “Next time I see you I’m going to kill you” and that’s why I haven’t been in the back yard much.

I was going to tell James what his brother said, but James and Scar moved to Cincinnati to live with his mom a week ago. He didn’t even tell me he was moving and that made me mad.

Yesterday after school I went to play in the back yard. I took my army men and lined them up on the porch railing and threw rocks at them. It wasn’t as much fun by myself even though I always made better shooting noises than James.

Mom asked me to come in and wash up for supper and I did and I guess she thought it would be funny if my stuffed dog joined us because he was in the high chair where my kid sister used to sit before she died.

That was really sad. My mom and dad were sad for a really long time and I didn’t like it. Then they started smiling again and I think I hated the smiling even more. They didn’t get the high chair out just for my stuffed dog, though. That would have been stupid. Aunt Nan was coming by later to pick it up since she is going to have another kid.

Anyway, I yelled at my mom for taking my stuffed dog from my room and grabbed him and ran to put him back on the bed next to the pillow. Mom said “sorry” and I knew she was because she rubbed my head the way I like it when I sat down at the table. We had tater tots, and that was the best thing about the day.

After dinner I played with my Lite-Brite set but I couldn’t think of anything cool to make.

That’s when I did the thing I lied about.

I grabbed my stuffed dog and told my dad I was going out front to climb the big tree and he said “don’t be gone for long because it’s almost bed time” and I said “okay.” But I ran around to the back yard instead.

Today when my mom asked, “what happened to your stuffed dog” (except she didn’t say “stuffed dog,” she used the dog’s name that I’m not telling you) and I said “I lost it” I knew right where it was.

I think I might have to tell her the truth because she isn’t going to move away like James and Scar.

I didn’t really plan on doing it, but when I got to the back yard I walked right over and threw the dog into the incinerator.

I’m too old for stuffed animals. James thought so, too.

My stomach hurt a lot today. And when I lied to my mom it hurt even more.

It’s really late now and I can’t hear my mom and dad talking so they must be sleeping. I don’t like being awake when they’re asleep. Tomorrow I will tell my mom what happened to my stuffed dog.

I got him when I was three. My Aunt Nan and Uncle Rick gave him to me for my birthday, but I don’t remember that.

He was brown with white ears.

I used to chew on his ears.

One time we put him in the washing machine because he was so dirty. That wasn’t a very good idea. He lost a lot of stuffing.

Yesterday I threw him in the incinerator.

His name was Floppy.
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