What Do Ghosts Dream?

Did I dream it, all of it? No, I Google The Land Before Time and there it is again. Littlefoot. The treestar. Cera the Threehorn. Cera was born without fear. I was Cera once. Where did that go?

Everything changed the year I turned ten. The Lost Year. I don't remember much from that year. Seems backwards if you can't remember the year when everything changed. I remember my mother took me to another house my father didn't know about and wouldn't let me text or phone him for almost a year. Why? No one would tell me anything that made sense.

Other divorced kids have their father. Why not me? Was there some terrible thing no one was telling me? Too horrible to even say?

It scared me when I saw him again, downtown the night of my tenth birthday, upstairs in the new courthouse, the only new building around. They wouldn't let him stand up or touch me. He couldn't give me the birthday card or the presents. The guards opened them first and gave them to me. We couldn't talk about anything. Nothing outside that room, only Chinese Checkers. Not this week or next week, not how was today or what's for tomorrow. Not school or soccer or Belly. Guards watched us through a two-way mirror. A woman in a white coat wrote down things we said. We weren't supposed to talk to her. We couldn't ask her anything. We had to pretend she wasn't there. It was the longest hour ever. If I could have my birthday wish, we would all forget my birthday.

It was a school night. Poughkeepsie was an hour drive for us. I didn't get to eat. I didn't touch my homework. I would have to make excuses to all my teachers tomorrow, but I could never tell them about tonight. They would never look at me the same. Neither would I.

I sat in back going home, like when I was little. When my mother tried to talk I pretended I was asleep. I thought of our mockingbird twisting in the dirt. If my father couldn't protect himself he couldn't protect me. There was no one for me now.

The Lost Year was the end of the years BCE and the beginning of the years CE, the Court Era. If there was one night, this was the night.

Why don't I remember much from the year when everything changed? What happened to us that year?

After that night I quit asking or saying anything. I got quiet. I was a quiet person after that. The Lost Year cut my family in half, and my memories. It cut me in half, and how much I could care about anything. I thought how a ghost would feel, picking when to be invisible, stepping into his own safe place any second. That was the best moment of my birthday, in the dark of the back seat, when I saw how to disappear.

[ $revision: 983 $]