He has a July birthday, which will make him the youngest
student in Miss Hathaways kindergarten class. Too young, really. So his
To his father, however, Young Frankenstein is a marvel. His father will not
consider holding Young Frankenstein back.
And so, on the appointed morning, Young Frankenstein stands before the colonial
on Morningside Court and poses for snapshots. Hes tall for his age. Hes shy.
His mother has chosen for him white socks with a blue stripe, baggy cargo shorts,
and a blue-checked shirt whose collar hides his
electrodes. In each of these images, his black hair glistens in
furrows. In some, Young Frankenstein
looks happy and proud, thinks his mother, advancing through them on the back
screen of her digital camera. But in others, he appears to take less pleasure
in his grip on the retractable handle of his rolling Diego backpack.
In these ones, he squints and holds a weak smile. His mother feels that shes
peering straight into Young Frankensteins tumult, his fear.
How was my big guys day? she asks him later, during the walk
Young Frankenstein nods. The day is gusty. He seems to her dully hypnotized
by the furious nets of foliage shadow tossed on the sidewalk before them.
Did you have a good day? she continues. "What did you do?
Can we have a banana popsicle when we get home? he asks her.
On the second day, as she waits for him, she examines drawings Miss Hathaway
has mounted near the classroom door. She compares Young Frankensteins handwriting,
which is correct but crude and variable, each letter blown from the line, to
that of the boys he has identified as his new friends, Chase and Aidan. Each
of their names has been printed out tightly, compressed in conscious design.
The boy Aidan is clearly advanced, she decides: hes been taught to form lower-case
How was your day? she asks once more.
This time he answers immediately. Good.
But that night, when they finish their bedtime book and lie down, he whispers
to her. Aidan said, Youre the monster! she learns. Youre the monster! said
Chase. Go away!
Her own sensible words in response are a frail and distant hum.
The next morning, she waits with her son in the hall before class. Covertly
she watches the parents nearby, who converse in pairs and threes. Are they
already friends? Or have they recognized in one another some evident likeness?
She touches the uncut hair at Young Frankensteins nape. He is silent.
When the buzzer sounds and he joins the funnel of students at the classroom
she sees what she understands others have seen: a child whose veins fork visibly,
a boy whose eyes—so beautiful! she knows—are lost in the grim
shadow of his brow.
Hes too young, she sobs discreetly into the phone in a corner
of her cubicle.
Hes not, says her husband. Hes doing fine.
Hes too young.
We cant send him the wrong message, he says. He needs
to see that we have confidence in him.
That afternoon, shes waiting again, trying to relax the smile shes
prepared, as the buzzer sounds and Miss Hathaways students begin their
slow press from the classroom. She sees Chase and Aidan. They bump one another
in a familiar,
good-natured way. She sees two girls, then two more, each one in a light dress,
speaking, or laughing in response. She moves closer, peeks in. Young Frankensteins
classmates keep coming. She waits. She begins to realize she has no idea. She
knows her sons features—his forehead, his jaw—but she
sure what will appear in the door. She doesnt know what she might see.
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