Young Frankenstein
Scott Garson

He has a July birthday, which will make him the youngest student in Miss Hathaway’s kindergarten class. Too young, really. So his mother suggests.

To his father, however, Young Frankenstein is a marvel. His father will not consider holding Young Frankenstein back.

And so, on the appointed morning, Young Frankenstein stands before the colonial on Morningside Court and poses for snapshots. He’s tall for his age. He’s shy. His mother has chosen for him white socks with a blue stripe, baggy cargo shorts, and a blue-checked shirt whose collar hides his electrodes. In each of these images, his black hair glistens in furrows. In some, Young Frankenstein looks happy and proud, thinks his mother, advancing through them on the back screen of her digital camera. But in others, he appears to take less pleasure in his grip on the retractable handle of his rolling Diego backpack. In these ones, he squints and holds a weak smile. His mother feels that she’s peering straight into Young Frankenstein’s tumult, his fear.

“How was my big guy’s day?” she asks him later, during the walk home.

Young Frankenstein nods. The day is gusty. He seems to her dully hypnotized by the furious nets of foliage shadow tossed on the sidewalk before them.

“Did you have a good day?” she continues. "What did you do?”

“Can we have a banana popsicle when we get home?” he asks her.

On the second day, as she waits for him, she examines drawings Miss Hathaway has mounted near the classroom door. She compares Young Frankenstein’s handwriting, which is correct but crude and variable, each letter blown from the line, to that of the boys he has identified as his new friends, Chase and Aidan. Each of their names has been printed out tightly, compressed in conscious design. The boy Aidan is clearly advanced, she decides: he’s been taught to form lower-case letters.

“How was your day?” she asks once more.

This time he answers immediately. “Good.”

But that night, when they finish their bedtime book and lie down, he whispers to her. Aidan said, You’re the monster! she learns. You’re the monster! said Chase. Go away!

Her own sensible words in response are a frail and distant hum.

The next morning, she waits with her son in the hall before class. Covertly she watches the parents nearby, who converse in pairs and threes. Are they already friends? Or have they recognized in one another some evident likeness? She touches the uncut hair at Young Frankenstein’s nape. He is silent. When the buzzer sounds and he joins the funnel of students at the classroom door, she sees what she understands others have seen: a child whose veins fork visibly, a boy whose eyes—so beautiful! she knows—are lost in the grim shadow of his brow.

“He’s too young,” she sobs discreetly into the phone in a corner of her cubicle.

“He’s not,” says her husband. “He’s doing fine.”

“He’s too young.”

“We can’t send him the wrong message,” he says. “He needs to see that we have confidence in him.”

That afternoon, she’s waiting again, trying to relax the smile she’s prepared, as the buzzer sounds and Miss Hathaway’s students begin their slow press from the classroom. She sees Chase and Aidan. They bump one another in a familiar, good-natured way. She sees two girls, then two more, each one in a light dress, speaking, or laughing in response. She moves closer, peeks in. Young Frankenstein’s classmates keep coming. She waits. She begins to realize she has no idea. She knows her son’s features—his forehead, his jaw—but she isn’t sure what will appear in the door. She doesn’t know what she might see.

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