“Boo!” “Ahhhh!” cried Poppy. Graham used to love scaring Poppy. Poppy and Graham were howling, hitting the floor with their fists. His mom stomped into the room, screaming to someone over the phone, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I can’t believe you left me and Graham and Poppy! What kind of dad are you! What will Graham and Poppy think of you!” Graham’s dad had left him, his sister, and his mom a month ago. Although his mom was shocked, Poppy and Graham didn’t really care.
It all disappeared when his mom started disappearing every night. Normally, at night, Graham’s mom drank coffee and watched a movie, or sometimes was on her laptop. Every day, Graham came to his mom at night and asked her if his dad would ever come back. After 8 years of asking her since his dad left him, since he was 7, she started disappearing every night. In the morning, her eyes would be red and her hair was messed up.
Graham decided to follow her at night and see where she was going. Her hair, which was usually in a neat bun at night, was tangled and over her face, and her eyes were redder than Graham had ever saw before. She was walking to the attic, and with a flashlight, he started following her.
“Stop!” she screamed at him, her hand swinging at him and hitting him with great force in the face. His nose was bleeding and he was staring at her with shock.
“Stop!” she screamed again and punched him in his left eye. Too shocked to even do anything, he ran back to his room.
Morning came sooner than he wished. “Mom, what happened last night?” he asked. “What do you mean Graham? What happened last night?” Although her voice was reassuring, she was glaring at him, and mouthed the word, ”Poppy”.
Graham walked home, his left eye black and his lips bleeding. He had gotten into another fight at school. Then, something caught his eye. He saw a woman, looking somewhat like his mom, but with a white nightgown, holding a knife, running. Just after he saw the woman, he saw a very odd looking man. He looked like a human, but with very pale skin and queer body features. His arms were attached in front of his body on his chest, and his legs were perfectly straight and paler than any other part of his body. He was wearing slippers and a black coat, not wearing anything underneath. Graham noticed something very peculiar about him, and when he noticed it, he was too shocked to do anything. His left eye was missing. The place where his eyes should have been, there was a burnt mark. The man reminded him of his dad, whose body was distorted and messed up because of bad surgeries he had to go through because of wars he had fought in.
When Graham went home, he tried to lighten his mood and decrease his shock by scaring Poppy. Just when he was about to say “Boo!” Poppy turned around glaring at him and screamed, “Stop!” her hand swinging at him and hitting him with great force in the face. Her hair, which he haven’t noticed before, was untied and tangled.
This is only a dream. It is just a dream. I will close my eyes and open them again. And everything will be back to normal, a happy family with my dad with us.
When he opened his eyes, everything actually seemed normal. His mom and dad were out working. Then, he heard the doorbell ring. Poppy ran to the door and opened it. Graham saw the man he saw earlier. He stabbed Poppy in her stomach and walked away casually. Graham ran to Poppy and peeked out of the door to see the women resembling his mom being dragged by the man.
Poppy was bleeding, so he called the hospital immediately. In no time, the ambulance arrived and Poppy was driven away to the hospital. He decided to set aside what had happened and went to his room to finish his homework. He opened his laptop to look at his grades and saw a “3”. When he was scrolling down, he saw occasional “2”s and frequent “3”s. He could barely see any “4”s. When he was seven, he attempted committing suicide because of his grades. But this was different. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone, but was trying to get out of high school as quick as possible, graduate, and live alone where no one could bother him.
His mom came home, wearing her nightgown. “Mom, I saw you when I was walking home. When I came home, the man you were getting chased by came and stabbed Poppy. She is in the hospital now!” “It is going to be alright,” she said, and collapsed on the floor full of exhaust.
When Graham went up to the attic to follow his mom again that night, but he found Poppy walking, looking just like her mom, but a smaller version. Poppy? Clearly she couldn’t have been here. She should be in the hospital. When Graham looked closer, he saw a hole the same spot the man stabbed her.
“Graham. This is dangerous. You will know about this later, and this is too hard for you to handle. Go now,” said Poppy, slowly turning her head.
Graham was used to being told that something is too hard for him to handle, and he was frustrated, but he understood. However, this was different. Poppy? She was younger than him and knew much less than him.
“Poppy, I am not a kid. You don’t have to treat me like one.”
“ I hate to break it to you, Graham, but you are one inside”
What could she mean, I am a kid inside? I am not a kid.
Waking up the next morning, Graham was scared and couldn’t do anything properly. He rushed to school, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t focus.
“Graham, can you meet me at the end of class?” his teacher asked.
After class ended, Graham walked up to his teacher. “What do you need?”
“Graham, I have noticed your grades dropping recently. What is going on?”
“Sorry. I was very tired lately”. It was not completely a lie.
“You may go now. I expected more from you."
Graham went home. "Hi mom.", he said, depressed. He went on his phone, to youtube, and noticed a video with his face.
“My classmate acts like a kid. He is in 9th grade, but acts like a 10 year old. He is smaller than an average 6th grader. He is so weird. He plays with car toys and once kicked his teacher in 7th grade. He has no friends because no one likes him. He gets bullied everyday by 6th graders.” he heard when he played the video.
That is not true! It is only that I am small. I used to play with toy cars in 6th grade. I don’t even want friends. I like being alone. Why is everyone treating me like a kid?
Graham heard the bell ring. Poppy! What was she doing here?
“Boo!” Graham said, trying to cheer himself and his sister up.
“Graham, would you stop? Why do you have to act like a kid all the time?” Poppy said, annoyed.
“Leave him alone. He has autism! I mean, …” Graham’s mom said, regretting everything she said.
“What!” Graham said, running to his room and diving into his pillow, trying to muffle his cries.
How could I have not known? Poppy said that I was a kid inside, and someone said that I acted like a kid. I kicked a teacher in 6th grade. My teachers were being extra nice to me because I had autism. I was bullied because I had autism!
"Why didn't anyone tell me that I had autism, mom?", he asked
"We just wanted to protect you, Graham. I am so sorry" she told him.
He decided to confront his bullies that morning. “Stop bullying me because I have autism. I noticed just yesterday, but I don’t want any of your tormenting anymore.”,he shouted, and walked away.
“He just noticed! He is so stupid for a 9th grader! Oh, I forgot. He had autism!” someone said, cracking up at his own jokes.
Walking home after school, he noticed his mom, running towards him, with Poppy holding her hand. “Graham! Go to our house and pack up. Your dad found us and planned on tracking us down and going to sue me. We will be on a train to Los Angeles in ten minutes. We have a new home there!”
Graham, who was not a huge fan of running, sprinted to his house, and dumped whatever he could see into his duffle bag. Hurry up. Hurry up! his mind told him. He darted to the door. Graham swung open the door to see the odd looking man standing in front of him. Graham just noticed that the man was his dad. He resembled his dad. His voice was gentle and soothing, despite his queer physical features.
“Graham, I am sorry. I am not mad at you nor Poppy. Just your mom,” He said.
“Why are you mad at mom? Why? I hate you. Let me go to the station!” Graham shouted, and ran to the train station without looking back.
What was happening? Why is this happening? What has happened? Why was Mom going to the attic and being oversensitive. What did Poppy mean when this was too hard for me to handle. What was "this"?
The train ride wasn’t pleasant, and Graham had to throw up occasionally. Both Poppy and his mom looked normal, their hair tied up and no blood on them. “Mom, what happened for the last 3 days? You were going up the attic, and you punched me. You were being chased by…”
“Forget it. It was your dad. It is over now. Don’t worry about it anymore. Just think of this as a dream, not part of your life. Also, I confronted the principal because of the bullies, and they were suspended.” his mom reassured him.
“In your new home, you will be home schooled by me, and I am sure you will love that. Poppy will be entering 5th grade in the school there, starting tomorrow” she said, beaming.
When they arrived, they went to Taco Bells for dinner. “Mom, what if I get bullied in my new school like Graham? Why can’t I get home schooled like Graham?” Poppy whined.
“Graham has a hard time socialising and focusing in school, Poppy. Please try to understand”
The next day was a busy day. After Graham’s mom drove Poppy to school, she was busy teaching Graham. They laughed and had so much fun teaching and learning, they thought that it was their best day ever. “Ugh! Mom, there are mean girls at school, but everyone likes them so much. People who doesn't hang out with them or like them gets bullied. What should I do?” Poppy asked, clearly worried and annoyed. “You should figure it out yourself, Poppy. I can’t solve everything for you. Make good choices” her mom said.
"Poppy, I got a call from your teacher. She said that you were not paying attention in class and you weren't getting decent grades. What is happening?"
"Mom, school is hard. Also, my new friends want to go shopping with me tomorrow. May I?" Poppy asked.
"No. Not until your grades get better"
Poppy whined and whined till she was grounded and sent to her room. Graham couldn't control his laughter seeing Poppy stomp to her room.
That was when I realised that every one had problems and we had to solve it by ourselves. Other people can't do it for us because they have their own problems they need to solve.
By Alexis Lee