Dylan didn't want to move to Michigan. He was six years old and things were just fine in his life. He had three friends -- Joey, Tom, and Ian -- and they all lived right on his street, close enough that he could walk to their houses.
He told his parents he didn't want to move, but his Dad said they had to because his company had given him a great new job in Michigan, and it was for the best. His Mom said he'd go to a new school, and make new friends, and everything would be fine. Dylan didn't want to make new friends -- he was perfectly happy with the friends he had, and he didn't want any more.
They persisted in this idea of moving, and as they sold the house and packed everything up and prepared for moving day, Dylan tried to ignore them. If he didn't think about it maybe it wouldn't happen. But then one day a huge yellow truck came rolling up their street, and Dylan's parents said it was moving day.
When the movers finished packing the truck after lunch, Dylan's dad said it was time to go. They all got in their car and drove off. His mom cried as they drove down the street, but Dylan just bit his lip and looked out the window. They drove until it was dark, and then they stopped at a motel. They were on the third floor, and their room overlooked a pool. Dylan knew he had to do something, because by tomorrow at noon they'd be in Michigan.
This was getting serious. It was time to head back home. If he left at night, while they were sleeping, maybe a kind stranger would find him wandering the highway, and would drive him back to his old home.
When he heard his parents snoring in the bed next to his, he tiptoed across the room to the sliding glass doors, then opened them slowly and went out on the balcony. The cars on the highway looked like lightning bugs from a distance. The pool gleamed up at him, radiating a soft blueness. He thought if he could jump down there he'd land in the pool and then paddle his way to the side. He might get smashed up a little, and his face would be all scrambled up, but just like Wile E. Coyote on TV, his body would get back to normal right away, and he could walk out to the highway.
He climbed up on the railing and took a deep breath. The railing felt cold to his bare feet. His toes dangled off the edge.
For a moment, he stopped to take it all in. The stars above in the perfect blue-black June sky, the cars on the highway, the sound of glasses tinkling in the restaurant down below. A breeze blew soft against his face, like a kiss.
Then, the most amazing thing happened. A star swooped down the sky and disappeared, just like that. It was right above him, and made him think of a tear.
He thought of his Mom. She would be so sad if he left. He could see her crying, the way her lips quivered and her face got all red and blotchy, and he couldn't bear it. It would be too much. Besides, she wouldn't have any friends either, at the new place. She'd need him so she wouldn't be all alone.
With a sigh, he got down off the railing. He'd have to
remember to tell them about the star tomorrow.
© 2003 John McDonnell, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
"Moving" is based loosely on an episode from my childhood. When I was five years old my father's company assigned him to a project in Michigan. Since the project was going to take six months to complete, the company paid for him to rent a house and move his family from Pennsylvania to Michigan (I guess that was cheaper than paying for him to fly home every weekend). I did not want to leave my happy home in Pennsylvania, and I protested the move. I was five, however, and my opinion didn't count for much, so when moving day came we packed up and headed west. We stopped at the halfway point and got a room in a motel. My memory is fuzzy at this point, but somehow I got it into my head that I was going to sneak out, and make my way back home. My parents found me outside the motel, making my way up a hill toward the interstate highway, with a few clothes wrapped up in a bandanna. I'm extremely lucky they found me. It's become a family story that we all laugh about now, but being a parent of four children myself, I know it must have been a scary episode for my parents.