by Steven Douglas Gullion Read author interview June 25, 2009
My youngest has locked herself in her closet. I didn’t even know there was a lock on the door.
“Doobie, come out,” I say. I’m on my stomach with my cheek against the carpet. “Open up, Doob, it’s Good Friday. Time for snacks.”
She pokes her fingers under the door, like baby carrots. She found the orange highlighter in my desk and colored her nails and kept going, all the way to her knuckles, up past her palms, to her wrists. The fingers are carrots for the Easter Bunny.
“Come out, Doobster,” I say. “Let’s have a cookie. Macadamia nut.”
I hear the rustling of clothes. The door jiggles, but the knob doesn’t turn. “I’ll come out Sunday,” she says. “Put the cookie through the crack.”
“Doob,” I say, “what are you doing? It’s dark in there. There’s no bathroom. The Easter Bunny won’t know where you live if you’re stuck in the closet. Don’t make me get my tools.”
All I have is a screwdriver, and I don’t know where it is. My neighbors hate me because Sparky craps on their lawns and because of the brush fire. I can’t ask them for help. I don’t want to call the fire department again. I could slam my shoulder against the door, break it down like the vice squad, but my shoulder’s already sore from sleeping funny on my tetanus shot.
Silence. “Doob?” I say.
“The Easter bunny knows everything,” she says. “You’re a big fat liar. The Easter bunny heard you say what you said. He’s coming. Say he’s coming.”
“Doobinator. I beg of you. Open up.”
“Say he’s coming.”
“Okay, he’s coming.”
“The Easter Bunny is coming. He’s bringing a huge basket full of green grass and colored eggs and chocolate and sour jelly beans, all for you. He’s bringing a frilly pink dress and a pretty lace hat and some shiny black shoes and a hair bow. But only if you open the door.”
“Daddy,” she says patiently. “Do you believe in Easter?”
This is one of those moments, the moments I screw up. What do you say? Do you lie the good lie?
“Easter exists,” I tell her.
She wiggles her orange fingers. “I’ll be out Sunday morning.”
“Doob, you can’t survive in your closet for two days.”
Her hand withdraws. Things move inside the closet. I hear coathangers screech along the rod. The door rattles. “Daddy,” she says. Her voice is coming from the crack. “Daddy, are you there?”
I put my ear as close to the crack as I can. “I’m here, Doo.”
Her breath comes under the door, a soft insistent sigh. “Daddy,” she whispers, and I still my own breath. “Daddy,” she says, “don’t you believe in me?”
About the Author:
Steven Gullion's other fiction has appeared in Night Train Magazine, The Barcelona Review, The Adirondack Review, and issues 5, 21 and 22 of SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. He is currently working on a novel about an armadillo.
About the Artist:
Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.