Mandatory Reporter | Beth Konskoski

I am silent under the October stars. A boy has ridden home on the bus today to a house where his mother pushed him down the stairs. I saw the bruises and watched his eyes drop like anchors when I asked him what happened.

I am silent under the October moon. Checking school email, the filed report, a chance perhaps to help him, but the wheels and screens and checkpoints of CPS are slow to rise and lumber into action.

I am silent under the October clouds. In the blank space where the morning will shine, I imagine his bed with a blue comforter, a lacrosse stick and old baseball hats, dirty sheets and a tangle of pillows without cases, jeans too short after a growth spurt, mismatched socks left beneath the bed like the untethered days of loss, his cold feet. The family’s lavish vacations, the expensive pitching coach for Little League, and the certainty of his screams, muffled and stowed away. All the lies he will tell.

I am silent beneath the October eclipse. Still wondering as the shadow blots the sun, as the mother denies the accusation, as the cupboards offer up their plenty and the bruises start to heal... will it stay dark forever? No safe way to gaze at brightness either when it blinds more than it reveals. No safe way to help him if he never returns to class. No moonlight for my sorrow when the silence pins me down.

Beth Konskoski

Beth Konkoski is a writer and high school English teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two mostly grown kids. Her writing has been published in journals such as: Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, The Greensboro Review, and The Baltimore Review. Her collection of short fiction, A Drawn & Papered Heart, won the 2023 Acacia Prize for Short Fiction and will be published in June 2024 by Kallisto Gaia Press.

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