Something snapped under
Sand’s shoe, and she lifted her foot see the broken crayon smashed into the carpet. She snatched up the pieces of blue
wax and threw them at the wall.
Come here, now!” She turned toward the boy whose nose was pressed to the television screen.
a minute.” David slowly backed from the set and looked at Sand. His head was tilted like a dog’s, trying to decide
if his master’s tone is friendly or not.
said now!” Sand’s voice quivered. The slight boy stood and crept to her. “I told you what would happen if
I found another color on the floor.”
put them away.” David ran his fingers through his thin blond hair. “Somebody got them out.”
would have taken your crayons from your toy box? No one else draws with crayons. You’re lying, David. You know I can’t
stand your lying.” The boy faced her with a blank stare. “You’re in time out. Go to your room right now
and think about it.” Sandra watched the youngster slump up the stairs. One hundred twenty pounds stretched on a nearly
six foot frame. His bedroom door slammed shut. “And no boom box. Do you hear me?”
he heard her. They probably heard her two blocks away. The doctor had told her to disassociate, so why was that so hard? Foster
kids have problems. They told her about David before she agreed to take the boy. His parents had messed with his mind. He
didn’t even trust his perceptions, the doctor said.
Sand, the plane has to fly around like that before it lands. They probably are talking to it from the airport.” He would
say things like that and look at her for confirmation. At first, she had answered, expounding on the landing process—inviting
conversation. Now, five months later, she simply grunted assent.
just the dumb statements. It was also the coloring thing. The psychologist said he needed to draw. He put his feelings on
paper to work them out. She had envisioned the fifteen-year-old drawing delicate landscapes and portraits. But David drew
stick figures. With crayons. He would pull them out of his backpack at the dentist’s office, at family dinners, anywhere
he had to wait. People stared at the kid. Sand never knew whether to shelter the boy in her arms, or go to battle for him
with the world. So she did neither. Disassociation. A wonderful word.
picked up the pieces of crayon she had chucked at the wall and dropped them in the wastebasket. David’s sketchbook lay
on the floor, open to a drawing of a blue man with huge glasses and one leg bent at a crazy angle. She sat down with the book,
seized by remorse.
not David’s fault. She had no right to scream at him. But she knew that it would happen again. Everyone screamed at
David. No other foster home would take him. If she told them to remove him from her home, even for his own good, they would
send him to an institution. And what kind of life was that? David wasn’t retarded. He was emotionally crippled.
was still sitting there when the phone rang.
Young?” The male voice was abrupt. “ Jim Post. I need to cancel my
appointment with you and David this afternoon.”
sorry,” Sand said, “I guess I’ve forgotten. What was this for?”
probably didn’t tell you. I’m not surprised. This is his homeroom
teacher. David refuses to stop talking in class. He disrupts my lessons, and when I tell him to stop, he argues with me in
front of the other children.”
Sand sighed, “We’ve heard that before. Well, when can we reschedule?”
“I don’t know. I see the doctor today. I had a stupid accident...broke
my leg. They’re going to cast it. I’ll call you next time to make sure you get the message.”
started to get up, to go upstairs and confront David, but they had had too much confrontation already. Instead, she popped
open a diet soda and settled back in the recliner with David’s sketchbook. She had leafed through several pages when
an uneasy feeling, like a hot flash, settled over her.
first page was a drawing of some kind of animal. Around its neck, David had made a red line that spilled out over the figure.
It reminded Sand of something. The neighbor’s dog had nipped at David when the boy first came to live with them. Several
days later his owners found him in the backyard with his throat slit. It must have bothered David, Sand thought, and he tried
to work his feelings out in his drawing.
next several pictures meant nothing to her. Then she recognized what appeared to be a female figure. David had scribbled a
crude brown coat on it. She had received a brown coat from her husband Michael for her birthday last week. It evidently had
meant something to David. But he had drawn it out of order; he had inserted it among the first drawings he had made.
had drawn a fat figure, lying on a bed, covered with purple spots. Like Aunt Martha, Sand thought. Aunt Martha had reneged
on her invitation for Sand’s family to spend Christmas in the country with her. It was an inconvenient time, she said.
Two days later she came down with chicken pox.
get real,” Sand said out loud. “A couple of coincidences. David is a disturbed young man. Nothing more. Why can’t
you get a handle on this, Sandra? Disassociate.”
the uneasiness didn’t go away. She was still feeling it when she went to her consultation with David’s psychologist
the next day. She had a vague idea that David wasn’t reacting to things
at all—that he was causing them.
come on. You’re letting your emotions get the better of you. Why don’t we put David in respite care for a couple
of days to let you get your feet underneath you again?” The doctor sat back in his chair, grasping his suspenders, smug
in his textbook world. “I’ll call another foster home to see if they have room for him. You are the adult, Sandra.
You have to take charge. Remember to distance yourself before you get this upset. Disassociate.”
I know,” Sand snapped. “Just call you Dr. Disassociation.”
psychologist sat forward in his chair and frowned at her over his glasses. “You’ve got to calm down. You are giving
this child too much power over you. I’ll see you next month. In the meantime, we’ll see how this respite holiday
works for you and David. By the way, you need to buy him some more crayons. He asked for my pen today but I wouldn’t
give it to him. I was firm with him and I told him that we would get him more colors, but he could not have my expensive pen.
You see? The adult needs to keep control of the situation.”
stood up and grabbed her coat. The doctor “buzzed” the locked door open and she stormed out of his office and
into the waiting room.
David looked up from the floor where he lay, on his side, drawing in his sketchbook.
The pressure of the boy’s fingers had broken the green crayon. He had drawn a man, in wide black suspenders, lying at
the bottom of a large green pool. Sand took a deep breath.
on, David. Let’s go.” Sand took one last look at the drowned figure in the sketchbook before David closed the
cover. Disassociate, she thought.