Do You Still Hear It?

Man in a raincoat holding a red balloon
Photo by Taylor on Unsplash

S SD Sep 7 · 4 min read

“I, I made it for him,” my voice shakes again. “I ma-made it for him, and we we-were supposed to test it together bu-but, but I didn’t. I let him go a-alone”

Dr. Parks sighs carefully, as if he doesn’t want me to notice him. He draws something on his notebook, something quick. He looks up and catches my eye, making sure I have nothing more to say.

“You said that before, Bill,” he says with that calm tone I hate so much. “It’s not your fault. It’s never been. It is okay to move on.”

I fidget with my hands, like I always do when uncomfortable. Dr. Parks looks at his watch, again carefully expecting I don’t notice. But I do. I notice everything nowadays. Always looking for anything out of the ordinary. Eyes and ears always open, attentive to that which may look out of place, may sound out of place. Because I still know that his disappearance was not ordinary. I don’t know how, but I know.

“How’s school going?” He asks out of the blue.

“It’s okay I guess,” I hate when he tries to make small talk to get me out of my head for when he’ll ask me other questions.

“Summer’s coming up, any big plans?”

“N-nah, not really…”

Silence fills the room. He is looking at me, I only look at the floor.

“Ah-I just…”

“It wasn’t your fault Bill.”

We both go quiet again. I keep holding back the tears. He knows this and looks down at his notes, pretends to write something but I know he’s not really doing that this time. Haven’t said anything new anyway.

“How are Richie and Stanley?”

Now I sigh. Loudly. I don’t care what he thinks about that.

“You’re only a boy Bill,” he says paternally. “Being out with your friends would do you real good.”

“Bah-but…”

“It wasn’t your fault Bill.”

“Why?” I yell, louder than I realize.

A few tears start rolling down my cheeks. I sob and try to keep the rest from leaving my eyes. Dr. Parks sighs softly, this time not really trying to hide it. He hands a box of tissues. I break down.

I look at the clock behind Dr. Parks. 5:27. Twenty seven minutes, about my average lately. It’s still hard to get to the 38 minute mark from a couple of weeks ago.

“Why what then?” He asks after I compose myself.

“What?”

“You asked why,” he refrains his question, “why what?”

“Wh-wha… Why would he go f-f. Why would he go after a paper boat?”

“I don’t know.”

“It was jah- it was j-j. It was only a pah-pah…”

“It was just a paper boat,” he finishes my struggling sentence. “I know Bill. We don’t know why he went down the sewer and we’ll never know, unfortunately. He’s gone.”

“You don’t know that,” I raise my voice again.

“Bill…” even he struggles broaching this subject. “Everyone needs to move on.”

I clench my fists. He looks down, this time he actually writes something down.

“In due time, of course,” he adds.

We sit in silence for another minute. I don’t feel sad anymore, just angry. Again. It’s always these two. Always in the back of my head. I swear I’m fine, it just comes out of nowhere.

“Have you been hearing it again?”

“It?”

“The laughter?”

“Oh,” I am genuinely stumped. “Ah-I. I don’t know.”

“You don’t know if you have heard a disemboweled voice laughing in the past few days?”

“Ah-I,” I stumble again before lying. “No, I haf- I haf- I have not.”

He writes something down and closes his notebook. He knows full well I still hear it.

“So, you’re fourteen now? Any girls in school that may have caught your eye?”

I sigh loudly again. The chit chat continues for another twenty minutes. He doesn’t push anymore, not today. It’s not a day of progress.

And then I walk home. It rains, like that day. Not a big deal, Dr Parks’ office is only a mile or so away from home, so it’s never a big deal. Yet, I always hear it again on the way home. Except for today. I don’t hear the laugh this time. But I feel the exact same way when I see him. The man in a yellow raincoat, holding a red balloon. He has his back turned to me, but I still feel it. And then he turns. I can’t see his face.

I know Georgie is out there. And this summer, I will find him.

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