By: Liam Cuddy
“Where are we?” Robby asked, confused.
“Here, take my hand honey, it’s gonna be alright…” Mrs. Walsh said as opened the hatch on the side of the rusting dumpster.
Light poured in, temporarily blinding the two of them as they climbed out of the contraption. The universe around them became bigger as they honed in on their surroundings, screaming and laughter accompanied by dizzying movement, it took Robby a moment to realize where he was.
“This is the old Seward Elementary playground… they tore this down when I was like… five…”
His mother nodded, “You’re right,” she muttered as she looked from left ot right. “Come here.” she said, quickly pulling him over by an overgrown shrub. “Do you see that boy in the striped shirt?”
Robby nodded. “Yes.”
“That’s Sean Coye, and he’s about to change your father‘s life…”
The school-bell rang loud and a stampede of small children bolted through the doors and out onto the playground. Robby seemed overwhelmed as he frantically looked at the sporty faces passing him by.
“No.” his mother said putting a hand on his shoulder. “There.” She pointed towards the doors where a lonely student seemed to lurk, as he stepped into the light, it all seemed to make sense.
Tom Walsh, a young boy with a twinkle in his eyes stepped out onto the blacktop wearing his red NASA t-shirt and limited edition space shuttle shoes. In his hands was a small UFO spaceship. His arms waved through the air as he made sound effects with his lips, pretending to shoot lasers.
Robby’s giggling ceased as he watched Sean Coye lock his gaze on the boy who would grow to be his father. He now began to see why his father was the way he is, and it hurt him more and more as he continued to watch.
Sean laughed as he pushed him around. “What are you gonna do astro-nerd? Fight me?” he laughed as he tore the UFO from Tom’s hands and launched it towards the ground.
Tom scraped his knees as he frantically tried to save his replica toy, but it was too late. With tears in his eyes he looked up and questioned his bully. “Why can’t you just– just leave me alone?”
Robby’s fists balled up as his eyes began to leak. “I have to do something…” he cried.
“I know honey… but now is not the time. If we’re going to fix this, we need to do it right.” she said calmly.
The day bled into the night as Robby paced around the block his father would later explain as his old stomping grounds. It wasn’t until the moon rose where his mother finally gave him permission to change the course of his father’s life forever.
They watched as his father’s parents left the driveway for their weekly movie. Then, with a few deep breaths, Robby stepped up to the door… Knock, knock, knock…