The Last Girl
Laura A. Ellison
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“Go ahead,” the boy’s father said. “Touch her...”
The boy, no older than five, was standing knee-deep in the icy cold, brackish river water, which was soaking through his jeans, making him shiver. His father stood behind him, leather jacket zipped up, long hair whipping in the breeze.
The April afternoon was gray, the clouds fat with rain. The boy’s mother had returned to work after staying home for weeks, her grief over the baby subsiding. The boy had grown used to her being around, he felt safe in her presence. With his father, he was always afraid, because the man was unpredictable and selfish. Sometimes, he would be gone for days, and the boy would go with his mother to his grandmother’s house. The boy would play with her poodles in the yard and color in her old coloring books as she crocheted. She would pick him up from school, her warm presence as steady as a rock. Then his father would return, and the boy and his mother would go back to the other house, of coldness and silence.