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Volume 3 Number 2 • Fall 2011

Abe Grace

Alphabet Soup

Jack watched, waited, patiently. He listened as the young boy hummed  tunelessly. Hummed and ate. Ate his soup. Alphabet soup. Jack would have  gotten him any food he wanted. Anything at all. Lobster, steak, even  tiramisu! But no, all he wanted was alphabet soup. Jack wasn't judging. To  each his own.

The young boy had straw colored hair and cornflower blue eyes. His skin was  pale, he didn't like the sun. Jack watched him outside. The others played  ball or talked. The boy just stood in the shade. Humming. Thinking. Jack  liked the quiet ones best. They weren't looking for trouble. It made Jack's  job easier.

The spoon clattered noisily against the side of the bowl as the young boy  ate. Humming quietly. Jack wasn't going to look at his watch. The boy  needed a good meal. There would be no deadline today. Alphabet soup always  reminded Jack of his own son. God rest his soul. Rest his soul. The boy didn't have friends. He didn't have enemies either. He had the  other's respect. Even though he was young. Much too young. He painted a  picture of a flower and hung it on the wall. Stuff like that would have  someone else beaten up. Jack had seen it happen. But not to the boy. He had  respect. Quiet respect.

Jack didn't like just watching one at a time. He liked it when they were  all together. Then he could separate them from himself. He didn't have to  bother with emotions. Jack just watched them fall in line. The clattering and the humming stopped. Jack looked up. The boy looked up.  He smiled. Jack had never seen him smile. It reminded him of his own son.  God rest his soul. Rest his soul.

You finished? The young boy nodded. Jack knocked twice on the door and it  opened. They came in to lead the boy outside. Only two. Because they all  knew he wasn't like the others. The ones long gone. He would go quietly. He  had made his peace. He had eaten his alphabet soup.

Jack watched him go. Shifted his gun. He walked over to the empty bowl,  drained except for five letters resting at the bottom. Five letters that  spelled out the young boy's name. So Jack wouldn't forget that he had been  here. Or maybe it was just his tradition. When eating alphabet soup. Jack picked up the bowl, spoon clattering again. The sound echoed off the  four cement walls. His boots clunked against the floor as he left. The  fluorescent lights made the hall look green. Made the boy's straw colored  hair look green. As they led him away. Jack sighed and turned to go.  Humming tunelessly as he went. Remembering the young boy's last smile. God  rest his soul. Rest his soul.

Abe Grace is currently a student at the New School in New York City. Abe  draws inspiration from such writers as as Junot Diaz, George Orwell, and  Flannery O'Connor. Grace tends to write about secrets and dark corners,  jealousy and humility, strange beginnings and bittersweet endings, and  enjoys tackling her work from different angles and different points of  view. Abe Grace hopes someday to write from the rooftop of a houseboat  somewhere in a moderate clime. She is currently at work on a novel.

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