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Strap In

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

It had been a month since you felt that seatbelt pull into your chest. A sensation you’ll never forget. As your legs shot out in front of you and your Spider-Man sneaker flew off your foot, passed your parents’ heads, and smacked into the windshield. The world spun in circles before you, your mom’s legs flailed like yours as she screamed. And your father. Well, he just disappeared. One moment, the back of his head, with his brown hair peaking through in tufts, was in front of you, partially obscured by the headrest it sat on, and the next he was gone.

The next time you saw him, he was in a box. A closed box with his picture on top. He was smiling in the picture. He was sleeping. He would be sleeping for a long time. So they put him under the ground where it was quiet. Your mom was going to miss him. You could tell. Because she was crying.

You no longer slept in the same bed. Now, both you and your mom slept in grandma and grandpa’s place. Your mom cried every night. She was sad that daddy couldn’t come to visit grandma and grandpa with you. You liked sleeping in bed with your mom. She smelt like perfume and skin and felt nice like flowers. Dad wouldn’t let you sleep in the bed with mom. Even after a bad dream. Now that he was sleeping, you could stay in bed with her all you wanted.

You looked down at your mom’s feet. They were blue from the moon. You rested your eyes and dreamed of them, red in the sun, up in the air, as her flip-flop flew off and out the window into the spinning world. She was screaming.

You woke up to her snoring next to you. Mommy. You held her tight. You were scared she would sleep too hard and they’d put her under the ground too. But in the morning she woke up and you ate cereal with her at the table. Grandma and Grandpa were already up and in the garden every morning. You could smell tomatoes and cucumbers when the sliding glass door opened. They smelled good mixed with your mom. Your mom would look off at nothing. When she looked back at you, she’d smile. That was the only time when she would smile. When she was looking at your face.

Grandpa would come in and ruffle your hair. Your mom smiled at you and scrunched up her face. You would all go out into the garden and you would play with a pinwheel or blow bubbles while your mom would help them with the trowel in her right hand. You could see the neighbor. He was scary. He would look over. But only when your mom was in the garden. He would wear sunglasses. He would look away when they looked. But not when you looked. You stayed away from the side of the yard closest to his fence.

One day, when your mom was whistling next to your grandpa, bent over, digging dirt, you saw a little rabbit. It looked at you and its cheeks went back and forth, then it hopped away. You followed it. It ran underneath the bench. You got on your hands and knees and crawled under. The shade was cool on your head. It went to the fence, trapped, and it looked at you and started to shake.

You got closer and closer and then you heard a voice.

“Look. Look. She’s bending over.” The voice was from over the fence.

“You weren’t lying. She’s a dime. Or a nine point five.”

“Nine point five?”

“Her body could be better.”

“No, no. I like em like that. Cute little butt.”

“I’m not saying it’s not a nice ass. I’m just saying it could be bigger.“

“That’s what you told your wife, and now she’s a cow.”

“She overshot her mark. She’s a bit of a piggy now, but I think she’s getting the point.”

“Oh yeah? How’s that?”

“I started making oinking noises when she eats.”

They both laughed.

The rabbit stopped shaking. It was as transfixed by the conversation as you were.

“Her husband must have had fun with that cute little ass. He’s dead you said?”

“Yeah, just recently. That’s why she’s here.”


“Car accident. Wasn’t wearing a seat belt.”


“Yup. Serves him right.”

“I mean, I don’t wear my seat belt either.”

“Yeah, but your wife’s a fat pig. If it was that little piece over there that you were leaving behind, I think you’d be a bit more careful.”

“True, true.”

“Now who’s going to protect you, sweety? Your six year old?”

“You thinking of becoming a stepfather any time soon?”

“No. I’d probably just poison the little shit. Wouldn’t want him barging in asking what mommy’s doing while she’s garbling my balls.”

“Right on.”

“Fuck, I wouldn’t be able to stand that if he were my own kid. Fuck that.”

“Okay, so you commit murder. You win her over. You convince her to get back on the pill. Then what?”

“Murder I can do. And crushing up birth control  and hiding it in her kale, I can swing as well. But I don’t think this bitch likes me too much.”

“Really? You? I couldn’t imagine why. You’re such a sweet man.”

“Don’t know. Guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

“Oh, giving up so early? You really have gone bitch. When was the last time you let a girl’s distaste for you get in the way of you fucking her?”

“The last time was when I stopped hanging out at college house parties waiting for girls to drink one shot above par.”

“That’s all it took?”

“And waiting for everyone around them to get drunk enough that they don’t notice me leaving with her.”

“The good ole’ days. So young and innocent then. Now you have grown man responsibilities. Like gambling debts and alimony.”

“I’m still young. It’s this world that’s gotten old around me.”

Then there was silence.

You heard your mom calling you. “Sweetheart! Sweetheart! Where are you?”

You looked back at the rabbit. It was gone.


“If you’re going to be gritting your teeth on the couch all afternoon, you should see a doctor.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine. You’re in severe pain.”

“It’s not severe,” your mom insisted.

“You can’t even walk,” your grandma said. “I’ll call my doctor and get you an appointment for as soon as possible.

“No, it’s alright,” your mom said, holding her lower back.

“No, it’s not. You’re just being stubborn now.” She started dialing on her landline. “No ear for good advice. Just like-” she stopped talking dead in her tracks.


You sat on a chair in between your grandparents. Your grandpa gave you a tootsie roll, which you sucked on passively as you waited.

When your mom came out, your grandma asked “so, what did they give you.”

“Oh, just… you know.” She looked down at the bottle. “Just bloblovlovlavlav.”

Your grandma smiled. “Oh, bloblovlovlavlav, of course. Do you take it now?”

“No. He gave me some now. I don’t feel anything yet. He said take one in the morning, and two before going to bed at night. They put you out.”

“Okay, good.”

“Good? I don’t know if sleeping through my grief is a good idea.”

“Who said you should sleep through your grief? I just want you to get to bed at night. A full eight hours. Like you’re supposed to get.”

You and your mom got into the back seat. She made sure that your seat belt was fastened before your grandpa stepped on the gas.

Your mom rested her head on your shoulder. “Can I just borrow you, sweety? You make a good pillow.”

You giggled

She was whistling as she lay there. Eventually the whistling stopped. And then in its place you heard snoring. You looked down at her to see her eyes clasped shut.

You felt something weird in your stomach. Like how you feel in a bad dream.


Your mom slept the whole night. But you couldn’t. When you finally did, you dreamt about that box. But now it was her picture on top. And then it goes down into the ground. And your grandma and grandpa get down on their hands and knees with their little trowels and shovel dirt on top of it. Within seconds, the hole is completely covered over. “This will be the best tomato season yet!” exclaimed grandpa.

Next to you was a fence, and over the fence you could hear those two voices.

“She shouldn’t have taken all that medicine. Now she’ll never wake up.”

“It’s too bad. She was like a little rabbit. Not like that fat pig you call a wife.”

You saw a little rabbit peak out from behind the fence. It squeezed through and then it then hopped over to the patch of dirt, which now had tomatoes growing over top of it. It sat there and looked at you. It’s cheeks went back and forth.

Then suddenly, from deep below the dirt, you heard it. Your mom snoring. The rabbits ears went back and it froze in place.

You woke up wailing. You saw your mom next to you, snoring like she was in the dream.

You gripped onto her tightly, waiting for her to wake up. Waiting for her to ask you what was wrong. Waiting for her to tell you it was all better. But she didn’t wake up. You shook her and she just snored. It didn’t matter how hard you shook. You looked down at her feet, blue from the moon. You just lay there, eyes wide, until morning. Not feeling quite okay. Her feet were now red from the sun. Suddenly, she woke up.


You both sat in the kitchen, eating cereal. She stared off into space. When she looked down at you, you expected her to smile. But she didn’t. After a while, she pulled out the roll of pills from her bathrobe and took one out. She placed it on the table and the bottle down next to it. The glass door slid open behind you. You felt that rugged hand on the back of your head.

“Good morning, you two. You get a enough sleep, sweetheart?”

Your mom shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, I guess,” she said, and she downed a pill.

“You look like a wreck,” your grandma said.

Your mom just sat there with her spoon in her hand, not even looking at grandma.

“No offense,” your grandma said, amending her last sentence.

“None taken, mom,” your mom said.

“Okay,” your grandpa said, “I just hope you’ll be okay while we’re out.”

“I will. Wait, what are you guys going t- what are you doing?”

“They have the garden market outside of the grocery store,” your grandma said. “They opened up yesterday. But we couldn’t go then because of your thing.”

“Yeah, we’ll be fine,” your mom said.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, go. Just go. Have a ball.” You felt that dark feeling like a bad dream when you listened to your mom talk. She didn’t sound like normal.

“Okay, then. See you in a few hours, guys. Have fun.” And then your grandma and grandpa were gone.

Your mom looked down at her bottle on the table. She tilted her head sideways at it, like a dog. Curious through her drowsiness. “Did I already do one?” She looked up at you. You had no idea what she was saying. She looked down at her bottle. She shook her head sluggishly, as if to say no, and opened it up. She took out a pill and downed it.

You guys kept eating. And as time passed, your dread started to go away. And then you looked up at your mom, and she looked down at you. And, much to your heart’s chagrin, she smiled. You felt like there was a rainbow in your tummy. And then her head fell straight down onto the table.

You sat there in the silence, which was twice as pronounced after the loud bang your mom’s face had just made on the glass tabletop.

“Mommy?” you asked.

She only snored back at you.

“Mommy? Mommy, wake up.”


You leapt of your chair, causing it to fall on its side behind you, making a loud crash. Your mom didn’t flinch.

“Mommy!” you shrieked, and ran around the table. You grabbed her by the belt loops of her jeans and tugged at her until she fell off the table to the ground, almost on top of you.

You began to weep. “Mommy! Mommy! Wake up, please. Don’t sleep! Stay up here with me. We’ll wait for daddy up here. I’m scared. Wake up! Wake up!” You pushed at her all the while. She was like dead weight. Nothing but snores and soft breathing.

You didn’t know what to do. You wanted to run out the front door and call for grandma and grandpa, but they told you you weren’t allowed to go through the front door yourself. So instead, you ran to the sliding glass door behind you. You swung it open and ran out into the back yard yelling. “Help! Help! My mom is sleeping!”

“What’s going on?”

You looked over, and standing there, with his shoulders and face above the fence was the neighbor, staring at you, looking astonished, even through his black glasses.

“My mommy! She’s sleeping,” you said. “I don’t want her to go underground!”

He went over to the other side of his yard and climbed up on top of something. And then he grabbed the top of the fence and jumped over it. You backed up because he was big and moving fast. “What’s wrong with her? Where is she?” he asked on his knee, shaking your shoulders. You could see your face in his glasses. You looked scared.

You felt weird now that he was standing this close to you and touching you. You also felt something you had felt before. You just turned and ran inside and he came in with you.

Your mom was lying there where you left her. He looked down at her.

“Oh god. What’s wrong with her?”

“She took the medicine!” you said. “Now she’s going to sleep. Like daddy!“

He furrowed his brows in confusion. He looked down at her, putting his arm out to signal he wanted you to be quiet. You closed your mouth.

The room was silent but for her snoring. He slowly stepped closer, and as he did, he noticed the pill bottle on the table. He knelt down at her and put his hand on her bare shoulder. He shook her. No response. His face dropped. You waited for some kind of response.

Unable to breathe. His shoulders started to shake. You stood motionless, like stone. A strange noise started to rise from his throat. One after the other until it started to sound like “ha ha ha.”

You stood there, terrified, enthralled. Then he looked up at you. He was smiling. He stood up suddenly, startling you, and then he went over to the bottle and read it. “Don’t use while operating heavy machin- okay. One for the morning. Two for the ni- I see. Ha ha ha.”

Suddenly, his face straightened out. “Did she take two of these?”

“Yes!,” you said.

He bit his bottoms lip as his cheeks flared out. “Where’s your grandparents?”

“They’re gone. To the grocery garden.”

“For how long?”

“For a few hours they said.”

He bit the inside of his cheeks. “So she took two? She didn’t take any more than that?”

“No,” you said. “She took two. She won’t wake up now.”

He snorted. He composed himself, looked up at you, and said “I have a plan.”

You listened with eyes wide.

“Can I ask you to do something for me, little man?”

“Yes!” you said.

“Okay,” he said. “I’m going to need you to be on the ball here. You have to give it all you got if you want your mom to have any chance at waking up. Understand?”

“Yes!” you said.

“Good. Okay, I need you to go to the living room and look out that window. I’m going to help your mom back here.Keep your eyes on that driveway. As soon as you see your grandma and grandpa coming, yell real loud to me so I know.”


“Good, but keep your eyes out there. I need to know exactly when they get back. Otherwise your mom will be asleep forever and you’ll never talk to her again.”

Your face scrunched up in horror. He started to laugh again. “Okay, now go. And whatever you do, don’t take your eyes off that driveway till you see grandpa’s car.”

You ran out into the living room and hopped onto the couch. You stared out the window with heavy breathing and sweaty palms, praying for your grandparents to get home early.

Behind you you heard the sound of belt buckles and cloth. Sounds that reminded you of your house, and your parent’s closed bedroom door. The neighbor’s husky grunting voice at the level of a whisper. You heard a sound, like something flying through the air behind you.

You turned to see your mom’s bathrobe fly by the framed section of the kitchen still visible from where you were. And next her pants flew by just as suddenly. You watched with your mouth open. And then you heard the sound of a car behind you. You turned to see a black Mercedes. Not your grandpa’s car.

“I have to look at the driveway,” you told yourself. “Or else mom will sleep forever.”

You thought about every time you woke up in your sweat and ran down the hallway to your parent’s room. How she would kiss you on the cheek and tell you it would be okay.

“Okay, that’s good, babe,” your dad said to her. “He’ll be fine now. Let him sleep in his own bed. He’s getting a little bit too old to come running to you every time.”

Your mom grabbed you by the hand. “Okay, let’s get back to your room. All the monsters are gone. I promise.” And you’d both go down that dark hallway, your hand in hers. After she checked the closet and under the bed, she’d get in the bed next to you, brush your hair, and whisper a lullaby until you fell asleep. In the morning, she’d be gone.

You kept your eyes open and on that empty driveway. Dedicated to your duty. Mom had done so much for you. Now it was your time to be there for her.

Behind you you heard “Oh fucck yeah, oh god,” being whispered in that growly voice and you could hear slapping noises. Whatever he was doing, it must have been working. He sounded excited. “Oh yeah. This is so good. Do it for your boy.” He laughed again. “But don’t wake up just yet. Give it a bit.

Suddenly, your focus on what you could hear behind you was interrupted by what it was you could see before you. It was a gray SUV, the one your grandfather drove. You got up and ran to the back, and just as you did, the SUV parked in the driveway and your grandfather got out. He had bags in his hands.

You hurried to the kitchen ready to live up to your duty. Your grandfather had just made it to the top step and he grabbed the door handle. Suddenly, he stopped. His other hand had made its way into his sweater pocket. He fished through it and pulled out a wallet. His face went red. He turned around to look at his wife, as he dangled his wallet between his thumb and index finger. She just laughed and shook her head, then she waved him back to the car. He went obediently.

The sunlight from the back yard got brighter as you got closer. You swallowed deeply, ready to yell to get his attention. You rounded the corner.

You stood there, stunned. Forgetting everything. Forgetting the world. His body slapped into your mom’s butt. He didn’t notice you. You watched on, enthralled.

“Oh god, you’re so tight,” he whispered. “What, he fucked you with his pinky finger? Fuck, lucky man.” He started to snicker to himself. “Not lucky enough, I guess.

Your mom, no more awake than before, looked strange before you. Was it working? What was it? Why was he doing it?

Suddenly, her head began to move.

You eyes went wide.

It was working. “I think I’ll spare your little man,” he whispered. “Maybe even give him a dollar or two. He’s a good little lookout. Keeping mommy safe like a good little boy. Safe and sound back here with me.”

Suddenly, panic took hold of you. You turned around and looked outside. But nobody was there. No grandma, no grandpa. Just an empty driveway. You turned back around to the kitchen to look. You were glad you did.

It was working! Your mom was moving. She started to push her butt back into him. And he pushed deeper and harder into her. Teamwork.

Suddenly, much to your happiness, she started to talk.

Oh honey,” she said, groggily. “It’s beem a while. It feels so good. Oh, I was having such a hurrble dream. I dreamed you d- oh, like that. Yeah, like that.”

Don’t worry,” he said, laughing. “I’m back. I couldn’t leave this sweet little ass behind. We’re about to make up for the time lost. Just you wait.”

“Mommy!” you yelled suddenly. He looked over at you startled. Your mom couldn’t hear you.

“It’s going to be okay,” you said. “It was only a bad dream.” You smiled with pride at yourself.

He noticed this. And without the pace of his pelvic thrusting changing one bit, he just looked over at you and smiled.

A rabbit ran into the middle of your grandparent’s garden. It looked at you through the sliding glass. It’s cheeks moved from side to side rapidly.

Suddenly, the neighbor began “Oh, shit! I’m cumming!

The rabbits cheeks stopped dead in their tracks.

“Fffuccckkkk yyyyeaahhhh!

Its ears went back as it froze in place

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