ONSQU Fiction: He Grew – Joe Aguilar

He came out of her not breathing.  Then he breathed but didn’t speak.  She told him the alphabet for years.  He could only sleep that way.

His mother.

Her son.

Her son held his mother’s hand in the small bus where they hunched in back where he liked to eat chips and make noise and feel his mouth.

This boy, he grew, he woke up early and filled the bathtub and he shit and he sat in his mess.  He found scissors and he hurt the parakeet’s foot.  She had to let him go.
She packed him a suitcase and wiped his rolling eyes and hugged him to the doctors in the van.

Each month they sent charts on what he ate and what he did.  She visited to watch him run confusedly at boys in the field.  She made birthday cakes.

They called her very late one night and she rushed over where he was on the edge of the roof all lit up by floodlights.  He got up there by himself.

He held his hairy potbelly in his hands.  He was silent and he knelt.  A fireman was on a ladder.  They had spread an inflatable mat in the grass for him.

She called up to him.  She called up the alphabet to him.

He looked like the loneliest man.


Joe Aguilar lives in Missouri. His recent work is in La Petite Zine, Puerto del Sol, and HTMLGIANT.


Washington Square