A little boy sits, the uncomfortable plastic of the schoolbus seat tells him he'll soon be home.

A warm January sun deceives the children with its brightness and clarity - he doesn't need his scarf on such a nice day.

"Maybe mommy has good news," he wishes, as the bus pulls off Sixth Street and turns onto Twelfth Avenue.

He jumps out of the bus, bounces up the curb and skips down the slick, salted sidewalk, kicking clumps of snow, watching them explode.

He looks up at the sun, eyes closed, studying the insides of his eyelids, searching the veins for special, hidden shapes.

Daddy lost his leg, just below the knee about a year ago. He started growing a beard last Christmas.

The little boy bounds up the stairs two at a time, hops through the red front door, out of the melting January day.

"Hi Mom! Any good news today?"

"Daddy died last night."

He wept.

Copyright © 1987, 2002 Steven A. Orth