One thought travels across that HD plasma in her mind.

I am tired. 

12 hour shifts to come home 

To work 12 hour shifts 

Those kiddies are her late night bosses. 

Brown paper bags she cradles,  

On that 2 train across 2 boroughs. 

Swollen ankles and needles in her knees 

Be the only gifts she gets. 

That daily luggage in the brown paper, 

That right there, nourishes her kids. 

They claw their way through flesh 

To spit wisdom on columns in Rome. 

She raised them well. 

Because their tongues never swell on the truth. 

And Pacman is all they know. 

But they never bite off those ghosts. 

Late night water boarding sessions drown them in reality. 

They dry off in cafes with sheets of paper. 

Fedoras cup their genius, and skippies support the swagger. 

She’s the best mother in the world. 

Those curly silvers that make that crown on her head prove it. 

They were told not to call her Mom. 

The word wasn’t strong enough. 

So they simply called her poetry. 

Today was probably the hottest day I’d ever experienced. I woke up on the couch this morning with my hair sticking to my forehead, and my boxers sticking to my privates. I guess it all made sense, seeing as it was mid-July and global warming had become a bitch. I couldn’t afford an air conditioner, and definitely didn’t want to save up any money for one, so I guess I was asking for it. I got by on ice chips, a twenty-dollar fan from Target, and cold showers.

After a thorough stretch, I made my way to the bedroom door at the back of my loft. On any other day, I would’ve been surprised by the bulge that lay under the covers in the middle of my bed, but today, I had a visitor. His name is Evan, and he is the most annoying human being I have ever known. Today was his sixth birthday, and I promised that I would take him on his first New York City subway ride, seeing as his parents were suburban robots who drove caravans everywhere. I didn’t see what the big deal was about a train ride, but this kid almost pissed his pants when I agreed to a long ride on the J train. Talk about easy to please.

I cringed from disgust as I neared the bed, and saw a tiny puddle of drool near his mouth on my recently cleaned linen sheets. I decided in that instant that I’d rather go through some type of Chinese torture than have kids. I tapped him lightly on the shoulder to wake him up. Six minutes later I had succeeded, and he got out of bed to brush his teeth. I quickly bundled up the nasty sheets and threw them in the closet with the rest of my dirty things. Strangely, Evan came bounding out of the bathroom like he just drank a shot of espresso.

“I’m ready. We can get on the train now, right, Uncle Colin?” He practically yelled at me.

“Lower your voice, kid. This isn’t a park. And no, we can’t go yet, you haven’t showered.”

“Shower? Why? I don’t stink,” he said, scrunching up his nose and smelling his pits. God, I felt sorry for his parents. 

“You still need a shower. Get your clothes out of your bag. Let’s make this fast.”  As if I hadn’t said a word, he sprinted out of the bedroom towards the small kitchen, screaming at the top of his lungs.

“I want a blueberry muffin for breakfast!”

I’m not sure why I didn’t say no to him, but I found myself walking towards the kitchen, pulling the container of muffins that we’d bought last night down from the fridge, and handing him one. I felt extremely dizzy. I walked over to the couch and sat down, watching Evan make a mess at the small breakfast bar. He would take a chunk of the muffin in his hand, roll it into a ball, stick it in his mouth, and then scratch his head full of curls. It was oddly adorable, but nasty; tiny flakes would fall from his head every time he scratched. I sighed deeply. This kid would probably give me a headache by the end of the day.

After the muffin was gone, Evan jumped down from the stool he was sitting on, and made his way over to me. He began pulling on my arm.

“Get up, Uncle Colin. We have to take the train now.”

“You still haven’t showered.”

“I don’t wanna shower.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t.”

I can’t say that this was the first time we’d argued like this, or that arguing with a six year old made me feel like an idiot. It truly didn’t, and I was determined to win this one. I looked Evan up and down slowly. He was extremely lean, with freckles littering his cheeks. He looked surprisingly cool in his grey tank top and blue shorts. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t sweating.

“You WILL shower. I promised your mother that I’d keep you clean while you stayed with me. Now, get your clothes, and head straight to the bathroom.”

Apparently, the stern approach wasn’t something Evan favored. He spotted the markers I’d bought him for his coloring book, and took one out of the packet. I fully expected him to ignore me again, and start coloring, but instead, he began walking towards the front door, the cap of the marker now on the floor. He paused at the door, looked straight at me, placed the tip of the marker on the wall and walked straight alongside it, leaving a lovely lime green track in his wake. Evan began picking up speed as he circled the entire loft, marker in hand, and grin on his face, all the while focused on me. He paused when the line had been drawn on every white wall in the loft, minus the bedroom. 

In all my 23 years of living, never had I wanted to punch a child in the chest more than I did at the moment. We stared at each other silently, a blank expression on my face, a satisfied one on his. It was scorching by now, and I could feel the tiny beads of sweat forming on my palms. I got up from the couch, walked into my bedroom, locked the door behind me, and lay down on the naked mattress.