This story is written for children in quarantine, and it takes precedence on this site because, hey, isolation from COVID-19 takes precedence over everything today (begun April 5, 2020).

Hope you enjoy it:


There it was again, the sound-cracking at the edge of sleep, the voices in twelve-year-old Kayle’s head as he began his drift into sleep.

Crackle, crackle—bits of words he couldn’t quite make out, but words they were. Men’s voices, he thought, although… he wasn’t sure. He’d never really thought about it. Usually he heard the voices as sleep came on and didn’t remember till the next time.

Tonight was different. Tonight the voices came when Kayle wasn’t ready to sleep.

How could he be? He’d done nothing all day but sit at his dad’s computer playing online with his friends—socializing, he told his mother, who worried so much screen time would reverse-vacuum his brain, so that one day he’d have to concentrate just to drool.

Okay, not fair. His mom only wanted him to do other things.

But what other things?

No school, with this coronavirus supposedly everywhere, although nobody he knew had it, or anybody they knew, and as far as he could tell nobody they knew. But you have to trust grownups, it’s the law. If you didn’t they could take away your screen time, or send you to your room, or serve you hash with boogers.

I mean, how would you know?

So, twelve years old, grade seven, home with his little brother, who was fun and cute but also annoying, because try as he might the only games he and Kayle could play together were Andy’s games. His mom, too, same problem: Andy got his way, not because anybody decided, but because otherwise Andynever let up. He didn’t know how.

Oh, yeah, his dad was home too, but he spent all day upstairs in his study working, and when he was done doing that, Andy had a book he wanted him to read. Or rather, books.

Everybody was home, but nobody had time for Kayle. Even the crackle family, popping in an out, going on about nothing in his head.

Then, all at once it wasn’t nothing anymore.

“Hey,” he heard, and this voice was different. “Hey.”

It was a scratchy kind of voice, like they all were, but this one was…


…a girl’s voice?

“Hey-hey!” it said.

“What,” he said in his head, and all at once something happened and there were eyes looking at him, eyes behind brown-rimmed glasses, and nothing else was still and like a kaleidoscope moving, except those eyes, and he didn’t know where he was.