by Dean Moses

The video ends. I gently guide the cursor and click replay. The screen flickers back to life, dressing my otherwise dark room in a pale glow.

“Welcome, peeps!” An energetic man says into a handheld camera. “Lester the Jester here. I just reached two million subscribers, wow. As a thank you, I will be teaching you guys five awesome April Fool’s Day pranks to pull on friends and family.”

I listen to every word, imagining the expression on dad’s face when he discovers the prank tomorrow. The distance he created between us since mom’s death is about to close.

“All you need is fake blood, which you can pick up from any party store.” Jester holds up a plastic tube: Bloody Good Time. “I use this. It’s cheap.”

Mimicking the movement onscreen, I lift my tube of Bloody Good Time—I’m ready.

****
The scent of burned breakfast lingers throughout the house and the daily melody of dad amongst dirty dishes and soapsuds rattles up to my room—here’s my chance. Rushing to my desk, I push over a recent birthday card from grandma: Happy 13th Birthday, Alex. With clear space and a torrent of sunlight beaming on me from the open window, I spin the cap off Bloody Good Time, squirting its chunky contents into my hands. The liquid is syrupy and smells of a chemical I have not encountered before. Jester’s video runs in my mind’s eye, his voice supervises where I create the illusionary cuts. Soon, the tube is reduced to nothing more than an empty, scrunched up chunk of plastic and my face is unrecognizable… even to me.

I wade into the soothing light and climb out the window. The air outside is bitter despite the sun’s warmth: a harsh, unforgiving wind. My bare feet dangle amidst a brisk flurry that pries at my pajamas. I turn back to my room, releasing a guttural yell: “Dad, help—I’m falling!”

A dish smashes. Shoes clatter on the kitchen linoleum. I defy my fears, my worries of ruining weeks of planning. The rigid wind pummels me as I begin my descent down the drainpipe. The decline is surprisingly easy, that is until I hear a crack. It’s a sound I’ve heard before—when I snapped a pencil at school and tiny wood chips cascaded over the table. Like that pencil, the drain splinters. I fall. I feel a burst of air and then the concrete. Luckily, I was already halfway down.

“Alex!” My dad screams.

I close my eyes, hoping he can see the fake blood from my bedroom window. I imagine him emerging from the house, tears in his eyes: each droplet a lesson learned for pushing me away after mom’s death. I wait and wait. A thunderous explosion fills my ears. I run into the house and shriek. Dad looks at me—through me. I peer through the hole in his head and then at the gun that put it there.

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