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My Bunk Mate

When I was younger my parents were sort of foster parents, not in the traditional sense. They were religious and devoted to their church and community. If a couple was having a hard time with their kids… Or going through a bump in their relationship… My parents would take in their kids while it all got sorted out. My guess is that they wanted more kids but my mom was unable to have more after I was born. I always enjoyed the company since I was an only child.

I had the typical 90's kids bed room… N64, TV, bunk bed, and toys.

Most kids stayed a few days but I was always a good host to them. I knew most of them thought it was just an extended play date. I was told by my parents, especially my dad, to be extra welcoming and polite. If they didn't wish to play or talk, don't force them. I was too young to understand why… But I knew not to test my dad.

One morning, I woke up to the sound of sobbing in the bunk below me. I climbed down silently and saw a shape of kid under the covers. The covers were moving up and down as the kid was sobbing. I decided not bother them.

I used the bathroom and made my way downstairs. I entered the kitchen to smells and sights of my mom cooking breakfast. My dad was already at the table… Newspaper and coffee mug in front of him. I was curious but not dumb. I knew not to pry or question my parents. I ate my breakfast and excused myself to my room.

Back in my room, all was quiet. I assumed the kid had cried themselves to sleep. I turned my system and started playing a game quietly.

After a few minutes, I felt eyes on me. I heard blankets shifting. I was so into my game that I didn't turn around… Like most kids, I was absorbed into video games. I briefly said hello… I got no reply. I assume they were shy and went back to my game.

Lunch time came.

I made my way down stairs. My mom and dad had gone somewhere. I made a sandwich for me and my new friend. I left it by the bottom bunk and went back to my game.

Hours passed.

I had been so caught up in my game that I didn't hear the garage door open as my folks came home. Suddenly, I jumped when I heard my dad call my name. I ran down the stairs to find my parents in the kitchen with take out from a chicken place. I was told to set the table. I grabbed four of everything… Plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins.

After I was done setting the table, I sat down. I waited for my father to say grace. Instead of saying grace, he stared at the fourth place that I had set. I started to apologize for assuming that my new bunk mate was gonna join us. Some kids need more time than others. My dad cursed for the first time in my life, literally asking " what the fuck " I was talking about. I explained as best as I could. He turned pale and ran into the garage, returning in seconds with a semi auto pistol. This was news to me… I didn't know my dad owned a gun.

He made his way up the stairs with haste. I heard him shout for the person to make themselves known. I waited… To be honest was so scared that I wet myself. He called me upstairs after a few minutes. I got to my room and saw my dad standing there with the gun. I asked him where they went… He explained that there was no one. I told him that the kid had been there all day… I didn't bother them or ask out respect. He told me that was impossible because they were not hosting any children at the time. I felt sick. I recounted the story to my parents. They listened quietly and nodded. My father said a prayer. I asked if I could sleep in their room that night since I was scared. My parents agreed. As we left the room my dad asked me to please take both empty plates out of the room.

The plate next to the bottom bunk was clean except for a few crumbs.

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