The Frankenstein Diaries
by Matthew S. Rotundo
(Part two will be in our next issue.)
Unease swelled in John Griffin as he pulled into a vacant stall at the daycare
center and powered down the car. Holos flickered over the double doors at the
building's entrance, depicting smiling children playing dodge ball, painting with
watercolors, running into the open arms of loving parents. A stab of envy pricked
him; a bitter taste flooded his mouth. He glanced away.
Paul had gotten into another fight, bad enough this time for the daycare
administrator to send an urgent message to John's handheld, requesting that he
collect his son.
He was tempted, for the briefest of moments, to pull out of the parking lot and
simply drive on, to drive away, to drive until he ran out of road and the ocean
spread before him, immense and blue and glittering. The depth of longing stirred
up by the fantasy surprised and dismayed him. His stomach roiled as he got out of
the car. The overcast sky threatened snow; even in his heavy coat, John shivered
against the frigid December air. The vision of the ocean evaporated.
Bonnie met him at the door, dressed as always in bright primary colors. A
normally smiling and vivacious woman, she stood with her shoulders stooped, her
mouth turned down. "Thanks for coming, Mr. Griffin."
"He's in my office. Come in."
She led him past the playroom, full of boisterous children and excited babble.
Envy pricked him again. He followed her down the tiled hallway to her small
It was neat and colorful, adorned with posters of animals and cartoon characters.
Child psychology books filled a small bookcase next to her desk. Paul sat in a
plastic chair in front of the desk, a scrap of a boy, looking at his shoes. Bonnie
took the remaining seat.
John squatted in front of his son. "Hey. What happened?"
Paul remained silent.
John put a hand under Paul's chin and lifted his head. His fine blonde hair was
tousled. A red scratch marked one pale cheek.
"Where did that come from, Paul?"
John glanced at Bonnie.
"He got into a fight with Phillip Seltzer, a boy about Paul's age. Phillip scratched
at his face in the tussle."
John stood and crossed his arms. "Is that so?"
"Mr. Griffin, Paul was sitting on Phillip's chest, hitting him repeatedly. Phillip
was pinned. He acted in self-defense. Paul gave him a bloody nose and a mouse
under one eye."
"Paul, is that true?"
"No." Paul stared at his shoes again.
"Then what happened?"
John looked at Bonnie. She only shrugged.
"What started it? Did the other boy provoke him?"
"He called me Frankie," Paul said. "Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. They all did."
Bonnie rolled her eyes. John resented the expression, but he couldn't really blame
her. Both of them had heard it before; it was Paul's favorite excuse. "No one
called you that, Paul," she said. "The other children all know better by now. And
Mrs. Simmons was right there when it happened."
"If she was right there," John said, "she should have been able to break up the
fight before one boy got a bloody nose and the other got a scratch on his cheek."
"It happened so quickly. She --"
"Then maybe you're a tad understaffed here."
Bonnie took a deep breath. "Mr. Griffin, this is the third incident in two months,
and the worst yet. None of the other children have this kind of trouble."
"None of the other children get called Frankie while the adults stand around and
let it happen, do they?"
Bonnie hesitated several moments before replying. "Mr. Griffin, if this behavior
continues, we may have to talk about finding a daycare better suited for Paul's
John narrowed his eyes. He thought again of the ocean. "Come on, Paul. Let's
get you home."