When Kathryn saw her son, she called his name nine times. One, as she saw his blonde head bobbing through the line for the Ferris wheel, shorter and darker than she remembered. Two, as his laughter echoed through the fairgrounds. Three, as she walked towards him wondering why he wouldn’t look at her. Four, as strangers began to stare. Five, as the panic rose in her chest, stopping her in her tracks. Six, as her husband appeared by her side, smelling of livestock and tugging her towards the parking lot. Seven, as her son answered to a different name called by a different mother, just like she knew he would. Eight, as she prayed that she would just wake up. Nine, as she got in the passenger side of their minivan and whispered it to herself just to fill the ache in her chest with music.
Sarah Stock is a student at Carroll University in Wisconsin.