Francis awoke in his bed, sweating, hearing his parents walk up the stairs to his room. Was he sweating before that? Francis switched onto his side facing the wall and counted all the tumbleweeds on the red clay around the Grand Canyon. The photograph fixed in his memory like lemon and lime.
"Where have you been? We know you were gone." His mother boomed with a broom in her hands.
"Are you going to hit me, mother?"
"Hit you? What are you talking about? I just want to know why jumped out the window. It was open and you were nowhere to be found."
"You wouldn't believe in mother." Francis turned over to his back and stared at the ceiling's flatness. He thought about the interlocking of wooden slats hidden by paint and walls. "I never get to see anything. You never let me go anywhere. I had to know about sunshine and dry dirt and ranches, rancheros. Anything but this place. The cars parked along the street. My school so close. You driving me to school. There's too little of what I want and too much to see."
His mother paused, drew her eyes towards the window. Not out of ponderance, but out of prescient purpose. "I didn't want to have to tell you this, but your father and I have been having some problems." She slumped her head. "Having... problems. Having. It sounds like a child, like a little brother or sister for you. But it's not and I've always done things the way they're supposed to be done. With you and with him."
Francis looked over to his closet where Ethereal waited.
"Are you and dad going to get divorced?"
"You know what that is?"
"I know what divorce is. You never let me go anywhere, but there's TV."
His mother raised her voice. "Francis, I want to know where you went."
Ethereal wriggled out of the closet. "Ma'am, I believe I'm the answer to your question."
Startled by the unfamiliar voice, his mother jolted up and backed to the wall.
To be continued...