All Stories, General Fiction

Across the Universe by Christopher Dehon


She bought a maternity t-shirt that said “Friends Don’t Count Chromosomes,” and she wore it like we were getting just what we’d hoped for. I spent my time praying that the test had been wrong. I listened to Imagine and added my own verses “Imagine all the people, living without disease…”

I think that she believed that t-shirt when she bought it. She read pamphlets about the bond between mother and child being stronger than anything god dealt. I knew it in the hospital, though. She barely held him and had trouble looking at him. It wasn’t just that he was smaller than the other kids, he looked like a little alien. I joked about his resemblance to my uncle Louie. She didn’t laugh. Now she sends child support checks, all twelve in January, eleven of them post-dated.

I tried to go to some of the Autism groups. They all have cute things to say about their “quirky” kids. I talked about my pediatrician, who told me that I should prepare to be changing diapers well into the school years. It was like I’d brought up the holocaust at a cocktail party. I didn’t belong in their club, and I didn’t know of clubs for people like me.

When you have a kid who’s adorable, they forgive you at stores when he throws a tantrum. When Logan throws a tantrum, people look at me like I’m not supposed to bring him out of the house. He started taking things from stores, and I got into it with a security guard who tried to put a scare into him.

I sang Beatles’ songs to her belly while he was in there. I imagined him as a teenager wearing those cool vintage t-shirts and actually knowing the songs (unlike those posers from my high school). I pictured him being like that cool skater kid I wanted to be but wasn’t. By the time I could’ve been that cool, I was too old. That test she’d insisted on robbed me of five months of “cool Logan” fantasies.

My parents said that I should have a will about who will take care of him if something happens to me. They quickly added that they were too old, and that my brother had enough on his hands with his kids. Who the fuck did they think I was going to ask? I wouldn’t even ask a friend to babysit.

I wanted a group of people who would understand when I said that sometimes when he’s having a tantrum in a store I think of leaving. I know I won’t, but I think about it. I picture myself walking into the group of onlookers, stating with them “where are this kid’s parents?” I’d walk out and get into my car and go. I’d just keep driving. I know I’d never do it, but people like me, if there were other people like me, would understand.

One day when he was in the tub, I walked out for just a minute. I’d left something on the stove (it’s easier to cook when I know he can’t run at the hot stove). There’s so little time that I get to see him alone, when he doesn’t know I’m watching. I figured he’d be grabbing himself since I keep having to tell him to stop, and he’d have free rein without me there. Then I panicked, thinking he’d drown himself or drink the shampoo. When I snuck a look around the corner, he was just sitting there babbling, “na na na na …” He still couldn’t say much. Mostly he grunted and pointed. I started to pick up his rhythm, and I sang along with him, “Nothing’s gonna change my world, nothing’s gonna change my world…”


Christopher Dehon


Header image: By U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

7 thoughts on “Across the Universe by Christopher Dehon”

  1. Hi Chris, this was excellent!
    The honesty in the writing is staggering. It shows some courage to put this out there.
    Hope we hear from you soon!!!!


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