During my childhood my family was like a drop of water in a vast river, never remaining in one location for long we settled in Rhone Island
when I was ugh, and there we remained until I went to college in Colorado Springs. Most of my memories are rooted in Rhone Island, but there
are fragments in the attic of my brain which belong to the various homes we had lived in when I was much younger.
Most of these memories are unclear and pointless- chasing after another boy in the backyard of a house in north Carolina, trying to build a
raft to float on the creek behind the apartment we rented in Pennsylvania, and so on. But there is one set of memories which remains as clear
as glass, as though they were just made yesterday. I often wonder whether these memories are simply lucid dreams produced by the long
sickness I experienced that spring but in my heart, I know they are real.
we were living in a house just outside the bustling metropolis of New Vineyard, Maine, population an It was a large structure, especially for a
family of three. There were a number of rooms that I didn' t see in the five months we mined there. In some ways it was a waste of space but it
was the only house on the market at the time, at least within an hour s commute to my father' s place of work,
The day after my fifth birthday (attended by my parents alone), I came down with a fever. The doctor said I had mononucleosis, which meant
no rough play and more fever for at least another three wheels. It was horrible timing to be bestridden- we were in the process of packing our
things to move to Pennsylvania, and most of my things were already packed away in boxes, leaving my room barren. My mother brought me
ginger ale and home several times a day, and these served the function of being my primary form of entertainment for the next few ween.
Boredom always loomed just around the corner, waiting to rear its ugly head and compound my misery.
I don' t exactly recall how I met Mr. widemouth. I think it was about a week after I was diagnosed with mono. My first memory of the small
mature was asking him if he had a name. He told me to call him Mr, widemouth, because his mouth was large. In tact, everything about him
was large in comparison to his body- his hem, his eyes, his crooked Fears- but his mouth was by far the largest.
You look kind of like a Furby,' I said as he flipped through one of my booms.
Mr, widemouth stopped and gave me a puzzled wok "Furby? What' s a Furby?" he asked.
I shrugged. "You know. the toy. The little robot with the big ears. You can pet and feed them, almost like a real pet."
Oh." Mr. widemouth resumed his activity. "You don' t need one of those. They aren' t the same as having a real friend."
I remember Mr. widemouth disappearing every time my mother stopped by to check in on me. "t lay under your bed," he later explained. "i
don' t want your parents to see me because rm afraid they won' t let us play anymore."
we didn' t no much during those first few days. Mr. widemouth just looked at my boots, fascinated by the stories and pictures they contained.
The third or fourth mm ing after I met him, he greeted me with a large smile on his face. "I have a new game we can play," he said. -we have
to wait until after your mother comes to check on you, because she can' t see us play it. It' s a secret game."
After my mother delivered more home and soda at the usual time, Mr. widemouth slipped out from under the bed and tugged my hand. -we
have to go the the room at the end of this hallway," he said. I objected at first, as my parents had forbidden me to leave my bed without their
permission, but Mr. widemouth persisted until I gave in.
The room in question had no furniture or wallpaper. its only distinguishing feature was a window opposite the doorway. M widemouth darted
across the room and gave the window a firm push, flinging it open. he then beckoned me to look out at the ground below.
we were on the second story of the house, but it was on a hill, and from this angle the drop was farther than two stories due to the incline. ‘I
like to play pretend up here," Mr. widemouth explained. "I pretend that there is a big soft trampoline below this window, and I jump. If you
pretend hard enough you bounce back up like a feather. I want you to try."
I was a with a fever, so only a hint of skepticism darted through my thoughts as I looked down and considered the possibility. "it' s
a long drop," I said.
But that' s all a part of the fun. It wouldn' t be tun if it was only a short drop. If it were that way you may as well just bounce on a real
I toyed with the idea, picturing myself falling through thin air only to bounce back to the window on something unseen by human eyes. But the
realist in me prevailed. "Maybe some other time: I said. "I don' t know if I have enough imagination. I could get hurt."
Mr. Widemouth' s face contorted into a snarl, but only for a moment. Anger gave way to disappointment. "it you say so," he said. He spent the
rest of the day under my bed, quiet as a mouse.
The following morning Mr. widemouth a ven homing a small box, ‘I want to teach you how to juggle," he said. "Here are some things you can
use to practice, before I start giving you lessons."
I looked in the box. It was full of knives. "My parents will kill me!" I shouted, horrified that Mr, widemouth had brought knives into my room-
objects that my parents would never allow me to touch. ‘I' ll be spanked and grounded for a year!"
Mr. widemouth frowned. ‘It' s tun to juggle with these. I want you to try it."
I pushed the box away. "t can' t. I' ll get in trouble. Knives aren' t safe to just throw in the air."
Mr. widemouth' s frown deepend into a swirl. He took the box of knives and slid under my bed, remaining there the rest of the day. I began to
wonder how often he was under me.
I started having trouble sleeping after that. Mr widemouth often woke me up at night, saying he put a real trampoline under the window, a big
one one that I couldn' t see in the dark I always declined and tried to go back to sleep, but Mr. widemouth persisted. sometimes he stayed by
my sine until early in the morning encouraging me to jump.
He wasn' t so tun to play with anymore.
My mother came to me one morning and win me I had her permission to walk around outside. she thought the fresh air would be goon for me,
especially after being confined to my room for so long. Exstatic, I put on my sneakers and trotted out to the back porch, yearning for the feeling
of sun on my face.
Mr widemouth was waiting for me. "l have somethinge want you to see," he said. I must have given him a weird look. because he then said,
it' s sate, I promise."
Hallowed him to the beginning of a deer trail which ran through the woods behind the house. "This is an important path," he explained. ‘I'
had a lot of friends about your age. when they were ready I took them down this path, to a special place. You aren' t ready yet, but one day, I
hope to take you there."
I bitumen to the house, wondering what kind of place lay beyond that trail.
Two new afterr met Mr. widemouth, the last load of our things had been packed into a moving truck, I would be in the cab of that truck;
sitting next to my father for the long drive to Pennsylvania. I considered telling Mr, widemouth that I would be leaving but even at five years
old, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps the creature' s intentions were not to my benefit, despite what he said otherwise. For this reason, I
decided to keep my departure a secret.
My father and I were in the truck at A am. He was hoping to make it to Pennsylvania by lunch time tomorrow with the help of an endless
supply of coffee and a of energy minis. He seemed more like a man who was about to run a marathon rather than one who was about
to spend two days sitting still.
Early enough for you?" he asked.
I nodded and placed my head against the window, hoping for some sleep before the sun came up. I felt my father' s hand on my shoulder. ‘This
is the last move, son, I promise. I know it' s hard for you, as sick as you' been. once daddy gets promoted we can settle down and you can
I opened my eyes as we backed out of the driveway. I saw Mr. Wiremod( h' s silhouette in my bedroom window. He stood motionless until the
truck was about to turn onto the main road, He gave a pitiful little wave goodbye, steak knife in hand. I didn' t wave back.
Years later, I bitumen to New vineyard. The piece of land our house stood upon was empty except for the foundation, as the house burned down
a few years after my family left. out of curiosity, I followed the deer trail that Mr, widemouth had shown me. Part of me expected him to jump
out from behind a tree and sre the living bejeezus out of me, but I felt that Mr. widemouth was gone, somehow tied to the house that no
The trail ended at the New Vineyard Memorial cemetery.
I noticed that many of the tombstones belonged to children.