We gave the child a gift. Whenever he pointed his fingers at us, we’d pretend to die. We told friends, relatives, all those who came in contact with him to play along. When strangers or even stubborn relatives refused to die when the child pointed his finger at them, the child would scream and throw whatever he could reach to the floor. Mashed carrots, peas. We wanted the child to know he had an intimate connection to all human life, that his decisions affected those around him. That is why we gave him this gift, this scale of death over life. In the morning when we’d change him he’d point, we’d die. He’d point his finger at the children in daycare, the teachers, they’d each die as we instructed them ahead of time. When he pointed his finger at the television we’d shut it off. We had to put the cat to sleep when the child pointed at it, since you cannot convince the animals to play along in games like this. The child will grow up knowing the power he has to shape and influence those around him. We could not be more proud.
Glenn Shaheen is the author of four books, most recently the flash fiction collection Carnivalia (Gold Wake Press, 2018).