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Kaci MoDavis

He doesn’t understand what Mom means by “glass half full.” He remembers fractions homework, splitting the numbers with a dash, nodding his head in the warmly lit kitchen as Dad tried to make him understand by pounding the pencil against the paper. “It’s like cutting a sub in half, Nicky,” he said while bringing down his hand on the middle of Nicky’s left forearm, mimicking a chop. Half. He doesn’t understand why Dad threw a fit about the half-empty gas tank this morning or why Mom spent thirty minutes more than usual curling her maple hair. Dad buttoned three out of the six buttons on his baby blue dress shirt. Mom placed a gold bracelet on only one wrist. Nicky doesn’t get why he had to bring his math book along to Grandma’s house when it’s a holiday anyway. He doesn’t know fractions. He doesn’t know halves. He wishes he did. 

He does understand that when Dad pulls out from the gas station, there’s a garbage truck where it shouldn’t be. It’s large and green and scraped. It roars like a jet engine, muffling Mom and Dad’s screams. He understands that when Dad slams on the brakes and launches Nicky’s chest into the seatbelt, it isn’t good. When his fingers gouge the leather seats, his knees lock, his eyes squeeze shut, it’s bad. It’s all bad. 

Nicky doesn’t remember falling asleep.  

Nor does he remember waking up, he just is. Except there’s nothing on his left but a bloody splotch, a blockage in his vision that looks a lot like a butterfly’s spread wingspan. On his right is a single blue chair where there’s usually two. Dad’s sitting there, one hand placed on his head exactly the way it is when Nicky strays from the ball at a soccer game. His shirt is different, this one with no buttons. It’s more like a robe.  

“Dad,” Nicky croaks. 

Dad looks at Nicky, his left cheek stitched up good, some red cuts and rashes festering around the slice. With both his eyes watery, he reaches out an arm to Nicky. “Hey buddy, oh Nicky, I’m happy you’re...oh god.” 

Nicky sees a heavy boot on Dad’s foot, black and daunting. He doesn’t understand where Mom is and why Dad’s sobbing like a madman. “I want Mom,” he whispers, red flowers floating over his iris. And then he goes to reach. But nothing reaches.  

It takes Nicky a full head swivel to see the tightly bandaged and elevated left arm of his. But he can’t move his hand. It’s not there. There’s no flesh where his palm would be, no bone nor blood. The white sheets are the only thing he can see, for the little vision he can utilize. There are scratchy knit blankets layered underneath this stub. His heart flutters and Dad squeezes Nicky’s other hand, burying his face at his bedside. He begins to say but never finishes, “Oh Nicky, your mom...” 

As Nicky wiggles his toes to justify their existence, he stares blankly at the lack of limb to his side. Half. This, this Nicky, is half. One but not two. Not both, but only one.  ½. 50%. Dad, not Mom. No Mom, just Dad. Not a pair, but a single. Nicky begins to breathe harder, one lung punctured and the other perfectly polished. He doesn’t know this. He passes out soon enough, swallowed into a dark abyss. 

In the hallway, a nurse with salt and pepper hair sulks against the wall underneath the blinding hospital lights. “What a shame, isn’t it? Poor boy lost his mother and his damn arm all in one swoop,” she whispers. Another, this one half her height peeks around the corner at the limbless boy with a widowed father clutching him closely. “Awful, but you know...could’ve taken them both, God knows,” she mutters. “Glass half full, I say.”  

Kaci MoDavis is a junior Creative Writing and Sociology double major, and a member of the Sigma Tau Delta honor society. She often finds herself writing fiction and poetry about troublesome circumstances, and enjoys turning the mundane into a curiosity. Her work has appeared in Apricot Press and the FUSE Moondial publication.

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