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Diorama of a Sky Entombed


Six weeks after his brother’s death, Alex arrives to Miss Moffett’s class with an empty shoebox tucked under his arm for presentation day.


So here is my project, he says, holding up the box for all the class to see. The students all lean forward in unison to get a better look: through a cut-out hole nothing but air.


Yo that’s a fucking box! Damon Malone shouts, prompting Miss Moffett to lash him with a look. She doesn’t even have to say it. He knows to excuse himself out into the hall now.


It is a box, says Miss Moffett once he has safely vacated the room.


No. It’s the sky inside a box. I caught it, Alex corrects her.


And this took you two weeks to make?


Two and a half, actually.


Alex is asked to stay after class, so after class Alex stays. He’ll sit and swallow this lecture because when your teacher lives right across the street, what choice do you have? After the requisite This is unacceptable and You’re capable of so much more, she starts in with the I know you’re hurting, Alex…and this is what sets him off.


Can I have my sky back then? he says.


No, he may not.


Bullshit! he says rushing out, nabbing his sky and yanking a desk down to the floor.


Hey! she says in her bitchy authoritarian tone, and then something else he can’t hear because he’s already at the end of the hall now, safely camouflaged in the crowd transporting his dead sky through the narrow aisles of fake happy faces.

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