Dirt by Paul Rousseau

Dirt

My son, Chase, really surprised me yesterday. He said his hair is like the roots of a tree. I assume he means brown and scraggly since, due to the multi-million-dollar case I’m on involving a semitruck and four corrective spinal surgeries, I haven’t been able to run a comb through it before he leaves for the bus. 

His school is near a nature reserve where they visit regularly for science class. Right now, his class is studying local ecosystems and even got a few eggs to hatch their own crayfish (which, to me, look like diabolical little water scorpions and not at all like lunch). 

He talks my ear off with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever seen, constantly moving around as if somehow fueled by crayfish facts. Did you know that crayfish can’t walk backwards? Did you know that crayfish have surprisingly great eyesight? Did you know that if a crayfish gets one of their limbs torn off in a territorial mono y mono, they can simply grow that little joker right back? (My own embellishment). As a personal injury attorney, I tell Chase, if people were crayfish, daddy wouldn’t have a job. Then I help him sound out the word re-gen-er-ation to really impress his classmates. 

That night before bed, I imagine my hair is like the roots of a tree, too, and try to figure out what that makes the rest of me. Soil, or dirt?

Chase comes home from school crying. He says Aria’s crayfish was beating up on his crayfish so he stomped on Aria’s crayfish to get them to quit. Then he got sent to the principal’s office where he told the principal that everything would be ok, crayfish can re-gen-er-ate, my dad said so. Chase got two days’ detention and I got the most passive-aggressive letter I’ve ever read, which is saying something because I went to law school.

Chase tells me to sue them all, Aria, the principal, everyone, his face glowing red as if there were a thousand little LEDs just beneath his skin. I say just because I’m a lawyer doesn’t mean we can just sue people willy nilly. He doesn’t like that answer and tells me he wants to go live with his mom halfway across the globe. 

If he were a little older, I could try to explain why we did what we did. I could try to explain that me being a good dad was what was agreed upon. I could try to explain that I’m trying. But sometimes even I can’t tell the difference between soil and dirt.

Paul Rousseau is a disabled writer from Minnesota. His work is in or forthcoming from Roxane Gay’s The Audacity, Catapult, The Daily Drunk, Hippocampus, JMWW, Okay Donkey, Rejection Letters, Waxwing, Wigleaf, and X-R-A-Y. You can follow him on Twitter @Paulwrites7

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Next: I Will Put My Anchor Here by Michelle Raji

Previous: Samples by Jamie Tews

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Art: British Library CC1.0 ALT: Maori bartering a crayfish

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