“Do you remember when you realized you had to do school every day for the rest of your life?” Landon stared at the side of his mother’s 4 bedroom house. He picked grass out of the ground with both hands, letting it fly away in the warm July breeze. He and the house were in the country, fifteen miles out of town, one hundred fifty miles away from the nearest city. Landon was alone. His mother at work, in town.

“Do you remember when mom bought you an alarm clock?” Living in the country, Landon had made it his normal practice to speak his thoughts aloud. He was 11 years old and he felt that life was beginning to pass him by.

“Do you remember how free it felt to be 3 years old?” Landon couldn’t remember. He looked at the sun and closed his eyes, hoping the weird brightness that he still saw with his eyes closed would help him remember. It didn’t.

It was summer and Landon only had three weekly duties—mow the lawn, sweep the floors, and read three chapters in one of the historical fiction books his mother had assigned him. Landon considered these chores a crime against his humanity. Summer was supposed to be 90 full days of freedom. Summer was the payoff for all the compromising, inane paperwork one endured during the school year. Summer was sacred. Not to be marred by the sins of responsibility.

“This will only get worse. And when it stops getting worse, I will be too old to remember my freedom. I can barely remember it now.”

Landon rolled down the slope of his lawn. Then he went inside to get a snack.