Home > Leaving Blythe River(2)

Leaving Blythe River(2)
Catherine Ryan Hyde

And there was no way Ethan was getting any kind of therapy. Unless his parents split, moved apart, which seemed likely now. If he went with his mother, there might be a slim chance. But his father didn’t believe in therapy. Not the mental kind, anyway. He was an athlete, Ethan’s father. An ultramarathon runner, a triathlete, no stranger to sports injuries. Physical therapy was well within his comfort zone. But what’s on the inside . . . his father believed you take care of that on your own.

The officer picked up a clipboard and began scanning what Ethan could only assume was the form Ethan and another cop had completed earlier. A moment later he looked up and narrowed his eyes.

“What?” Ethan managed.

“Looking at what you put down for your date of birth.”

“I’m seventeen.”

“Right . . .”

“I know I don’t look it. I get that. But it’s the truth.”

“Got some ID? Oh, wait. That would have been in your wallet. And that got stolen, right?”

“No. I never had it with me. It’s in my carry-on bag. Long story. It’s at home.”

“Okay, well, your parents can bring it later.”

“Am I the suspect here?”

Before asking that question, Ethan had been pleased by the gradual return of his voice. It had made him feel a tiny bit more optimistic, as though lost belongings could be relocated. But now it had gotten him in over his head.

The cop sat back in his chair. “No. Of course not. And I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. Just . . . sometimes it’s a little bit of a red flag when somebody lies on the reports.”

“I didn’t lie. I’m seventeen.”

“Okay. Well. We’ll just put a pin in that for now. I’ve read the report of the incident. And I just have one question. What were you doing out on the street by yourself at two thirty in the morning?”

Ethan looked down at his own jeans and said nothing.

“I mean, it’s not illegal or anything. Maybe I wouldn’t even ask if you looked seventeen. But however old you are, you must know you look like a kid. I would have made you for twelve or thirteen. It just seems strange that you’d be wandering around all alone at night in the city. You know? I just thought there might be a story around that.”

Ethan said nothing for what felt like a long time. He just sat and trembled, and hoped this unexpected line of questioning would go away.

When it seemed clear it wouldn’t, he asked, “Do I have to answer that?”

“Was it a drug thing?”

“No! It wasn’t anything like that. It was just some stuff in my family. There was just this stuff going on. That I had to get away from.”

“This ‘stuff’ . . . is it anything you need to report?”

“No, sir.”

“You getting hit at home?”

“No, sir.”

“Anybody getting hit at your house?”

“No, sir.”

“Because, you know. It was enough to drive you out onto the street at two thirty in the morning. And you don’t seem like the bravest little guy on the planet. No offense. Just, you have to have some confidence to walk around Manhattan at that hour. I’d just want you to tell me if you feel like your safety is in danger at home.”

Ethan sat trembling for a moment, not knowing what to say. Not knowing how to say, “It’s the kind of stuff where you’re getting hurt on the inside. And people don’t get arrested for that. Even though maybe they should.”

“It’s not that kind of stuff,” he said.

“Okay, fine.” The officer seemed to wrap up his concerns just that easily. He could just finish up and move on. Ethan wished he knew how such a thing was done. “You got a good look at the guy, right?”

The room swam again, too brightly, as the man’s image came clearly into Ethan’s head, his unshaven face just inches away.

Bye. Bye. The words kept playing on a loop in Ethan’s brain.

“Yes, sir,” he said in a trembly whisper.

“Okay, then. We’re going to have you look at some mug shots.”

It was five thirty in the morning when Ethan looked up to see his father standing over his chair. He squeezed his eyes shut and looked away.

They were in a very bright room with mug books on the table. Ethan had seen many horrible faces over the last couple of hours—and a few pleasant-enough ones, and others that just looked sad—but he had not seen the horrible face that had loomed so close to his own.

Bye. Bye.

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