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Story by Davin Malasarn (Read author interview) September 15, 2007

The crew drilled a hole in the wall dividing the dining room from the kitchen to run a cable through. Elliot shrieked in his high chair with fists balled. He was top heavy in the chair, and Molly braced the steel legs against the dining table to keep him from falling over. She lifted the spoon again and brought it in front of his face. The camera man moved in closer.

“Take a bite, Elliot,” Molly said.

The boy clamped his lips together. He rarely lost his appetite, so the crew must have really made him nervous.

“Take a bite, Elliot. One bite for Mommy.” She turned to the director. “How long will you need to be here?” She squeezed the leg of the high chair tightly.

“Not long,” the director said.

“How long?”

“Just an hour or so, Mrs. Bruno. Not long.”

She stroked her son’s thigh, so large underneath his tray. A neighbor had called the show to tell them about Elliot, but she didn’t know which neighbor. They all looked out from their windows, gawking too pitifully at her son and she hated them.

“When did your husband leave you?” the director asked.

“Six months ago. No, a year now.”

“And, when did Elliot start to gain the weight?”

“Those things aren’t connected.” She dumped the food into the sink and wiped Elliot’s face with a cloth she wet under the tap, all without letting go of his chair. Then, she helped the boy down. He held out his arms, but she couldn’t lift him anymore. She knew he wanted to be carried away from the camera. He knew he was on display. The camera man got down on his knees to shoot him from below.

“You’re making him look like a monster,” Molly said. She took her son by the hand and led him into her bedroom. She came out, wrapped her cardigan tightly around her waist. She was thin, which maybe made it worse. “Get out of my house,” she said.

“Mrs. Bruno, this is a chance to help your son. You let us shoot him. You bring him onto the show. We’ll give him help.”

She looked out the window at the sky that was intensely bright from the sun beaming behind fog. “Don’t you have enough footage yet?”

“Twenty more minutes,” the director said.

She stepped aside and the crew moved toward the bedroom. They tried to open the door but Elliot was pushing hard from the other side to keep it closed.

“Let them in please, Elliot,” Molly said.

The boy continued to push against the door. He threw his weight into it, and for a moment Molly prayed for the giant inside of him.

About the Author

Davin Malasarn was born in 1978 and lives in Pasadena, California. He’s published stories in Rosebud, The Storyteller, and Insolent Rudder, among others. His story “A Boy In The Sky” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He’s currently working on a novel about a man who returns to Thailand for the cremation of his mysterious brother.

This story appeared in Issue Eighteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighteen

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Steve Edwards is author of the memoir BREAKING INTO THE BACKCOUNTRY, the story of his seven months as caretaker of a 95-acre backcountry homestead along federally protected Wild and Scenic Rogue River in Oregon. His work has appeared in Orion MagazineThe Sun MagazineLiterary HubElectric LiteratureThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives outside Boston with his wife and son.