Danny speaks, his voice strained. "I'm fine," he says, but his words sound hollow.
Seeing the fear in his friend’s eyes and the tension in his body, Jake asks, "What's the matter?"
Danny opens his eyes and recalls when he and Jake stole apples from old Lady Hendrix's orchard. He got stuck under the fence and panicked; Jake yanked him out. The memory offers him a brief sense of ease.
"I feel like I'm suffocating," Danny says, shifting in his seat. "It's like I can't escape."
Leaning forward, Jake asks, "What do you mean?"
"I don't know, but something terrible will happen."
"Tomorrow will be another boring school day," Jake reassures him.
Fear enveloped Danny that night as he hid under a blanket, escaping the howling wind and his parents' fierce arguing. There's a loud crash, and the front door slams shut. His mother sobs herself to sleep as darkness creeps around the boy through the staring window.
In the morning, Danny observes his mother's red-rimmed eyes, messy chestnut brown hair, and broken glass swept into a corner.
"Danny, your father left us late last night and isn't coming back," his mother, Barb, tells him as she holds him close.
"Where did he go?"
"I don’t know where Frank went. He said not to contact him. Your father wants his own life apart from us."
“Your lying. My dad won’t do that!”
Breaking the news to her nine-year-old son about his father starting another family was unbearable for her.
"It's not your fault, Danny. You did nothing to cause your father to leave and can't bring him back. From now on, it’s the two of us, and we’ll be fine."
Danny tears up as his mother says, “Finish your breakfast, and I’ll call the school to say you’re not feeling well.”
Barb boxes up the rest of Frank’s belongings and takes them to a charity. At the kitchen table, the abandoned wife lights cigarettes and searches for jobs in the want ads, ignoring the dripping kitchen faucet. She will have to sell their two-story house with the peeling paint.
Danny wonders who will toss the ball with him in the backyard and watch his games while his mind fogs over and his insides shake. He dreams about his father’s bulky frame ripped through the hungry window and worries he will be the next target. Willing himself invisible, the diminished boy returns to school, clutching his lucky rabbit's foot.