I teach ninth grade English in Vermont, just south of the Champlain islands. At the faculty holiday party, a colleague told me that her eight year old asked Santa for a cell phone. That reminds me, I said.
It was Fall. Before class, Josh asked me if I wanted to see a picture of his deer. (Josh is short and fat with scraggly yellow hair. His face is red. He can’t read. He wears his clothes too big and a camouflage duct tape hat. He reads magazines about dirt-bikes.)
You have a deer? I said
The one I shot, he said, taking his phone from his pocket.
I said they didn’t used to allow phones in school. And phones didn’t used to take pictures, either.
You don’t want to see it?
You’ve already shown me, I said. He knew it was a lie. And though I wanted to, I couldn’t let him down. Alright, I said. Okay.
He gave me the phone. The deer’s head like a slab of meat on the grill grates in the cab of his father’s pick up. Red Chevrolet. Calvin pissing on a peace sign.
Looking at the picture, I felt Josh’s pride.
I’m gettin’ the head for my birthday in August, he said. I’m gonna hang it on the wall in my room when we move to Fletcher.
So why take a picture? I asked, handing him the phone.
I dunno, he said. Why not?
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Josh’s Deer by Stephen Harutunian
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