Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 22, 2022

Dallas 2022

 We were worried about Dallas because we felt that he was channeling some sort of abuse from his home life through the drawings he created during coloring time.

The backgrounds were sketched in a wild black color, and on top of the black, he used red crayons to depict monsters and demons killing other children and animals. We called Dallas's parents and asked them for a meeting to discuss their son's artwork. Mrs. Coroney told us to mind our business and then hung up the phone. Mr. Coroney barged into my office with Dallas in tow the following day and essentially told us the same thing. Except, he ended his tirade with a hearty fuck you to my face and to my mother. May she rest in peace. Technically, Dallas was not exhibiting any kind of irrational behavior at school, nor was he lashing out at his classmates. Instead, he was a quiet child who kept to himself. "Dallas," I quietly asked him one day during alone time, where he and his classmates sit somewhere in the classroom occupying a silent space to meditate. "I just want to let you know, if something is wrong at home, that is making you feel upset or angry, you can tell me about it. I won't say anything to anyone. It will be our secret. Is that okay with you?"

"Okay," he looked up at me from under those big brown eyes.

"Is something wrong, Dallas? I mean, at home, with your mom and your dad?" I spoke as softly as I could; my voice was almost down to a whisper. "Something that's making you upset?"

"No," he replied, trying to mirror my soft tone. "Why?"

"It's your artwork during coloring time," I replied. "It's dark, and there are monsters in it, hurting children like yourself, and animals also. However, some grown-up doctors who help people with their thoughts have said that artwork like yours really doesn't mean that it's about monsters. Instead, the doctors say that it's about feelings that are too hard to talk about, so people draw their feelings out on paper, like how you've been doing." I looked him in the eyes the whole time to see he understood what I was saying.

"Those are my friends Mrs. Fuji'i," he spoke very frankly with no expression. "I'm drawing my friends. not monsters."

"Do your friends hurt other children and animals?" The question just came out. I didn't even think about it. 

"Just the bad ones," he said. "Just the bad ones."

I left Dallas to himself. Now, I knew without a doubt that something was going on at home that had Dallas wholly traumatized. I looked at the clock and saw that it was two-thirty. Was it time to go home already? I turned the classroom lights on and told everyone that the end of the day was here, and I bid them all a good afternoon. Everyone quietly went and got their backpacks, and one by one were picked up by their waiting parents outside. Dallas's father was right outside the door, and when the two departed, I was horrified by what I saw and nearly screamed in front of the whole school. It was the red crayon monster from Dallas's drawing walking right next to him, with his one arm around Dallas's shoulder, and in the other hand, the monster thing held on to a bloodied, half-eaten cat. It was real; it wasn't trauma disguising itself as a neurosis. No, it was an absolute monster, the one from Dallas's drawing.

photo credit: rhett hammersmith/goldenbinder

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