Red Wagon

November 19, 2008
By Allison Orr, Arlington Heights, IL

In front of a house that resembles mine
The sidewalk looks like the one I learned to rollerblade on
On the cement, track marks from your red wagon’s wheels have now faded
The snow has since hugged the place you last stood
Like burying a grave without a headstone
The leaves that saw you last
Now have fallen
Leaving the trees naked and cold

The papers you would deliver tomorrow
Will report of your disappearance

Even the trees changed when you disappeared
From lush green
To burning amber fire
Then barren empty

Headed search parties
Then brought casseroles and cards

Your family’s tears fall
And meet their cries
At the bottom.
Cold, dark, and echoy.

Mom stopped letting them play outside alone
But they grew up anyway
Constantly, she cried.
Began sleeping in Johnny’s bed- without Dad
She declined therapy, but accepted pills
Pills at breakfast, lunch, dinner,
And every sleepless hour.

Dad lost his job
When he turned to the bottle
He became unconscious
And saw life only through the liquid ripple

Now, five years later
They resent her
For her constant phone calls
For checking up on them at school
All the things they wish they could tell Mom and Dad:
“We’re still here
We’re older now
We still want to live
Even though Johnny didn’t get the chance.
We love him too, Mom.”

The author's comments:
For twelve-year-old Johnny Gosch, a paperboy who disappeared in Des Moines, Iowa while delivering papers.

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