Saturday, November 24, 2007

Red Mask in the Mailbox

Red Mask in the Mailbox
by Chris Griffith

Chapter 7: The Color Red

Mary was behind Thomas when he reached the top of the hill. She heard the dull thump as the car slammed into the iron pole planted in the ground. A second or two later she heard a window crash, but saw nothing. She did not see it hit him, but she heard it bang and clang as it bounced off his head.

When the silver mailbox with the red handle slammed into the skull of eight year old Thomas Trimpton, he was knocked unconscious.

He dropped the Cracker Jack lunch box onto the concrete sidewalk where it made a dull thump. Thomas had finished his lunch late and did not have time to empty his trash. So he stuffed an apple core, some napkins, and a empty zip lock bag into the box beside the Cracker Jack thermos. When he dropped his lunch box, the books from under his right arm slid out and slapped onto the concrete. First a social studies book and then a math book. Pencils, a few crayons, and a pink eraser spilled out of a little plastic bag. The eraser bounced a few times before it came to a rest.

Thomas’s eyes rolled back inside their sockets. He fell backwards, and his head landed in a row of bushes along the sidewalk.

She jogged over the hill and found Thomas flat on his back. A trickle of blood ran down his forehead.

She looked up and saw Joe Trimpton’s car in the middle of the street.

“Mr. Trimpton, come quick,” she said. “I think Thomas is hurt!”
He saw a body on the ground. He recognized the blue and white tennis shoes and the brown corduroys and broke into a sprint. Thomas was sprawled on the ground, his lunch box beside him, with books and pencils scattered about. The mailbox was in the bushes beside Thomas’s head, with one side caved in. The red flag stood straight in the air.

He awoke a few minutes later. The first thing he saw was the dazzling brilliance of the blue sky above. His eyes were filled with tears. His view was blocked by the silhouette of a man, and Thomas noticed it was his father. He stretched his hand towards him and tried to speak, but the words were lost in babble.

“Tommy, can you hear me?” his dad asked. The voice came from far away. His rough hand touched the side of Thomas’ face and caressed his cheek.

“It’s my birthday Mama, can I please stay home?” he asked, half awake, half asleep.

As Thomas lay there, another figure entered his vision and brought him back to full conciseness although he thought he was still dreaming. He saw the outline of a body, with the sun behind it. His eyes cleared and he saw her new and afresh, like a newborn baby. “Mama,” he cried.

Mary stood over him, Charlie’s Angels lunch box in one hand and Holly Hobby purse in the other.

Thomas sat up, his mouth gaped open, eyes wide as windows shot out in a ghetto. He gazed at Mary Snodgrass. A goose egg grew above his right eye and began to turn a light shade of purple.
“Wake up, boy,” Joe said.

Thomas stared at the red sweater Mary wore. It was a red cardigan with white buttons; her favorite. She loved the smell of the sweater and the softness of it. People took notice of her when she wore it, as if her mouth alone did not bring her enough attention. She wore the red cardigan with her blue jeans and a white pair of Keds running shoes. The outfit looked patriotic and on the days she wore her sweater, she spoke up a little louder when pledging allegiance to the flag.

“Tommy...?” He asked.

The sun sparkled down from above and shadowed the face of Thomas.

“Can you hear me son?” Joe said, and shook him on the shoulder.

“Do you think he’s dead?” Mary asked.

“No Mary, he’s not dead. I think he’s been knocked silly,” Joe said.

“Tommy, can you hear me?” Joe asked again.


“Tommy, what’s wrong?” his dad asked. “Are you okay?”

Thomas stared at Mary’s sweater, not because it was beautiful, (although to him, at that moment, it was), not because he liked the pretty white buttons on it, and certainly not because it was Mary “Snotnose” Snodgrass who wore it, but because for the first time in his life, he saw the color red.

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