Cyrus will turn seventeen in less than a month. Six-foot tall and 150 pounds of lanky arms and legs. For a week he has been doing pushups in his bedroom, candy wrappers and crumpled denims shooed to the side. Pull ups also, from a padded bar rigged in his doorway. The other evening he casually announced he would be unavailable for supper Tuesday night. When we asked why, he averted his gaze, stanched an embarrassed grin, and stated simply, “Got stuff going on.”
When the big night rolled around, Cyrus picked out his best pants and pullover shirt, combed his ash-blond hair into a clumsy part, and swiped Old Spice deodorant under his arms. Even brushed his teeth (second time that day). On his way out at six o’clock, he nodded his head, gave a tentative wave, and said, “Alrighty then.”
Her name is Madison, he confided later, his cheeks reddening like crabapples. A sophomore at his school. They conjugate verbs together in French class. That Tuesday, Cyrus had teriyaki chicken tossed in a wok. Madison, fried rice. That’s all we’ve been told so far. Here’s what his mother and I hope, though: that he opened doors for her like he’s been taught, got her home before curfew, then lay awake way past his bedtime, reeling from his blossoming life.
About the writer:
John Langenfeld entered the Texas prison system at the age of twenty-one and served fifteen consecutive years. While incarcerated he earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Sam Houston State University and a Master’s degree in literature from University of Houston at Clear Lake. Langenfeld is a lifetime member of Sigma Tau Delta, an international English Honor Society. He has been published in Entropy, Threepenny Review, Southampton Review, Bayou Magazine, Thread, Roanoke Review, and Barnstorm Journal, and was a finalist for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize 2017.