Septemus 13


Dear Sept,

I watched you sleeping last night, so sad and still in your slumber. It was hard for me to comprehend that you would be starting school this morning. I couldn’t help but worry.

I think you might have been worried, too.

You woke in the middle of the night with a start.


I tucked you back in to bed and asked if you wanted to talk a bit before falling asleep. You said no, but then when I got up to go back to my bed, you grabbed my hand and said, “Just sit.” So I sat with you until you fell asleep.

I woke early this morning to make your sack lunch. Then I fixed our favorite faux BLT for breakfast.


A special day deserves to start with a treat.


“What if they tell me I have to sit in the closet?” you asked me.

Where did you get that idea?


“Or what if they say that if I get a math problem wrong, I have to write the rightest answer five thousand and twenty-one times on the black board?”


Then I realized: We’ve been reading way too much 19th Century children’s literature.

“OK, son,” I said, “it’s not like it was in the books anymore.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I studied to be a kids’ teacher,” I replied. “And all us teachers studied how to make learning fun and help kids feel accepted and safe and ready to learn.”

“That sounds nice,” you said. “I’ll be happy if my teacher is like you.”


You stopped eating and got quiet.

“What do we do there,” you asked, “if we don’t write math on the board?”


“You’ll probably draw and listen to stories and write and sing,” I said.

“Can I make up my own song?”

“Sure!” I said.

And you started singing a strange song about a lost planet that got eaten by a black hole and the chorus went:

“It’s empty. It’s empty. It’s all gone and black and empty.”


“Think we’ll sing that song?” you asked.

I said no.

“What will we sing?”

I sang the tea-pot song for you.

“I’m a little tea pot
Short and stout…


“Here’s my handle,
Here’s my snout.”

“It’s SPOUT!” you said, giggling. “Everybody knows tea pots don’t have snouts!”


“See?” I said. “You know the song already! You’ll do great at school!”

“I’m so ready,” you said.


We had a little time after breakfast, so you asked if we could go outside and play.

Your doll was the teacher, and she was very nice and not at all strict.


And my doll was the student, and she was rather naughty and did everything wrong. But the teacher was nice to her anyway.

“OK,” you said, after we played for a little bit. “I think I am ready.”


And with that, you grabbed your sack lunch and walked down the street to school, just like we’d practiced every day leading up to this.

I’m proud of you, son. You will do great.

Your dad,


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Septemus 12


Dear Sept,

Sometimes the look on your face is enough to break my heart in two.

I kind of wish I hadn’t told you about the plan to look for your bizoopagotogo. Maybe if I’d kept it all secret, then disappointment wouldn’t color our lives.

A little kid shouldn’t have to be kept waiting.

We still dance to make the waiting pass.


It doesn’t work as well as it used to.


You’ve been having trouble with the atmosphere, now that your limbs are longer. It’s hard for you to breathe sometimes.

The suits the agency sent seem to help.

But there are still a lot of mornings when I can tell you’re in pain.


I wish I could help you more.

SebastionwhatamIdoinghere?” you asked me the other morning.


“Spaces, Sept,” I reminded you. We’ve been practicing with your speech so that it’s easier for other people to understand you.

You took a deep breath.


“Sebastion, what am I doing here?” you asked.

I was feeling happy. Having you around, even when you’re sad, I don’t know, son. It just warms me.

“Right now, you’re dancing with me, son,” I said.


“It’s not what I mean, Sebastion,” you answered. “I’mtalkingbigquestionwhylikewhyherenadwhynotsomewhereelseandIdon’tbelong and where is everybody?”


“I don’t know, kid,” I said. I wanted to tell you about this kid I read about who’s been hacking into government computers, including the agency’s, and posting what he finds on bulletin boards. But I don’t want to get your hopes up.

We keep dancing.


It’s not bad every day.

Sometimes, you sit in the park in the sun, in your white suit, and you look happy and peaceful.


You’ve still got that little toy cat you had as toddler. Kisuuu, you call her, and you ask her all sorts of questions.

I’m glad you’ve got a friend, even if she is made of plastic.


You’ve been with me so long now, that I feel you belong. I never wonder what you’re doing here–or if it was some kind of accident. You’re here, with me, and you belong. And no amount of existential angst you feel could dim the way my heart rises up when I see you, son.

After all, I spent half my life wondering where I belonged, too. And it’s only been since you arrived that that question, for me, has ceased to be.


Your dad,


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