“The Triceratops is my favorite.” Damien says, looking at me with a tooth-dotted smile, consequence of a maturing mouth.
“Why is that your favorite?” I ask, pulling the oversized white shirt over his shoulders, struggling to button him up while the young boy pulls away towards his dinosaur book.
“They’re big like rhinos and only eat plants and never fought unless they had to.”
I finish buttoning his shirt and Damien runs towards his book to tell me they went extinct 66 million years ago. He tells me he’s sad they are gone because he would’ve liked to ride one to school.
I tie my black shoes and put on my black blazer, a solemn black tie accompanies them. I don’t even bother trying to put Damien’s tie on. His mother tells us we need to go from downstairs.
“Are we going to grandma’s?” Damien asks with hopeful eyes. He hasn’t seen her since the hospital.
“No, son.” I say, the dreaded moment registering in my brain. “We’re going to see grandma for the last time.”
“Why? Does she not want to see us anymore?”
“You, little man, are the only thing she would want to see.” I did expect to cry today, but not this early.
“Grandma is going to sleep, now, forever.” I answer Damien’s questioning face. “And she’s going to miss you so much, buddy.” I hug him tight.
“Like the triceratops?” Damien asks.
“Kind of.” He’s too smart, smarter than I ever was at his age. “Kind of like the triceratops.”
Damien asks if he can sit on my shoulders on the way to the car, I let him, he pretends I’m a giant dinosaur plowing through the undergrowth on the way to a watering hole.
Vanessa is waiting at the car dressed in black. An oak tree sits next to her. Its barren branches hover over the sedan as a reminder of the cycle. I ask Damien if he wants to see grandma, even if she can’t wake up and say hi. He shrugs and says:
“When we get home,” Vanessa says, brushing a stand of blonde hair behind the black veil attached to her hat, “We can make a page for grandma, one just like the triceratops’. So that no one ever forgets her.”
“Even in 66 million years?” Damien asks.
“Of course,” We lie together.
Zachary Schroeder is a freelance writer out of Austin, Texas. He recently graduated from Texas Tech University and is working on his first novel along with an anthology of short stories. Tweet him at @zschroeder342.
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