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THE NOTE
BY KATHY CHENG
*
Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane I love her. Chris.

I wrote that note twenty minutes ago. Itís been pinned to the cork board propped up against my desk since. The handwritingís a little sloppy, but there werenít any lines on that page of the K Mart catalogue. I need lines or my handwriting ends up looking crap. You can still read it, but itís just not as neat as I can be. If I had a ruler Iíd rule the lines myself, but whatís a runaway note if not a little sloppy? I guess the noteís a bit short too. I should maybe make it longer.

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane I love her. Iím leaving because I have better things to do with my life. Better things than to sit around every day talking to Dr. Adult-Acne about the recurring nightmare where Iím a dog and everyone else in the world is an animal rapist. Chris.

I suppose that would have more bulk. Give them something to work with, something substantial to blow into their hankies about. Perhaps some explanation to give Jane when sheís older and wonders what happened to that lanky boy who liked to stroke her hair and pinch her nose. Sheíll ask about me when sheís maybe eleven. My parents would point to the fridge door and on it would be that note, as freshly crisp as the day I wrote it. Jane would read it and then float into the next room to quietly sob to herself. Sheíd sob tears of relief that her brother is doing better things and no longer discussing dog rapes and looking into the eyes of a huge zit. But sheíd also sob tears of grief because the reality of no longer having a brother who loves her would settle in. That would make her sad. I donít really want to make Jane sad. New note.

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane I think sheís okay. Enough of talking about dog rapes for me, I have better things to do. Chris.

A note like that wonít hurt Janeís feelings at all. Sheíd be eleven and taller and wonít even blink after reading it. She might wonder about dog rapes though. Like if dog rapes were one of the topics we discussed at the dinner table as we cut into our steaks and potatoes. Or if we had a dog, maybe a sausage dog, and it was raped again and again in a totally mean way and the police kept questioning me about it. Jane might think that. Sheís very smart. Or if our sausage dog, who weíd call Patrick or maybe Glenn, went off raping other dogs and the owners of the other dogs kept asking me what happened to their dogs that was making them limp all funny. Thatís possible too. Theyíd ask, what happened here? And Iíd say, I donít know. Then theyíd ask, did you see anything? And Iíd just shrug because Iíd had enough of talking about the stupid dog rapes. Yeah. Scrap dog rapes. I donít want to be associated with dog rapes. Itís not very cheery at all. I want them to be happy for me after Iím gone. The note should be something that gives them hope. 

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane I think sheís okay. You donít have to worry about me. Iíll be more than fine. Jeremyís cousin taught us how to break into cars last weekend and says we can join up with his business. Kind of like an internship. No more school for me, I guess. Chris.

Just listen to me, the career man. Dad would be so proud. Heís always bugging me about the real world and here I go, jumping right in there with an internship. An internship in the automotive industry no less. Thatís even better since Dadís such a car fanatic. Heís always waxing and polishing the sedan. I just know Dad will sleep easier knowing Iím making something of my life and learning the ropes of Jeremyís cousinís auto business. Heíll tell all his co-workers about me. About how fast I can break into someoneís car and how sneaky I can be. Everyone else will be so jealous and fantasize about their sons running away. I donít think Mom would be as proud though. She thinks schoolís important and doesnít like Jeremyís cousin much. Maybe a note like this will make Mom go crazy. I guess I need to bend the truth a little.

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane I think sheís okay. You donít have to worry about me. Iíll be more than fine. Iíve arranged to stay at a friendís house for the next few weeks. He lives in a nice neighborhood. Iíll continue taking my medication until it runs out. I will try my hardest not to be hurt or die. Chris.

Thatís more like it. I prefer the tone of this note much better. Itís upbeat and makes me sound like a promising adolescent who has nothing to do with dog rapes whatsoever. And thereís no mention of Jeremyís cousin at all. Itís like he doesnít even exist. So whoís going to drop out of school and join a crime gang? Not me. Iím going to a friendís house. He lives in a nice neighborhood, my friend. Weíll play crosswords and watch sports on television all day. Iíll have so much fun, breaking into cars would be the last thing on my mind. So this is the note then. Iíll just find a new piece of paper, one with lines, and write it out neatly. I like the last sentence. Iím nothing if not unselfish. That Chris, theyíll think, heís so amazing. He has so much talent and such readable handwriting. Weíre going to miss him because heís so special to us. Theyíll think that, and then theyíll cry for a long time. Most importantly, Jane wonít see me as a loser when sheís eleven and taller because her brother had a friend he could stay with. Sheíll know exactly where her brother lived for the next few weeks after he ran away. Wait. So would my parents. New note.

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane Iím not a loser. I have plans and a better life waiting for me. Itís a new world out there for me, Mom, Dad. Itís a world where Iím a dog and . . . 

New note.

Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you whenever. Tell Jane Iím not a loser. Tell her I think sheís okay. Woof woof. Chris.

(*

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