Sleepover by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


My parents threw a big party
when I was six.
They both seemed very
For the weeks leading up
to the party
my parents stocked up
on everything they
would need:
and whistles…

There was plenty of food
and liquor.

The night of the party
I was put to bed early
and lay awake in the dark
watching shadows break the thin line of light
under my door
as muffled voices
intermingled with
Soon there was music too
and clanking glasses
and much more
I had to go to the bathroom
and tried to hold it for as long as
I could
but biology won out
(long before I knew what
biology was)
and I got up
and made my way across
the hall.
When I was done,
I felt much better.
I washed up

dried my hands
and exited into the hall
where I was intercepted
by my father.

What are you doing up?
he asked.
I thought I told you to stay
in bed.

I told my father I couldn’t sleep
and a few tipsy ladies in long colourful dresses
behind him
said I was too cute for sleep
and that my father should let me
stay up awhile longer.
My father looked down at me
for a moment
with a look of puzzlement
I had never seen before.
Then he took my hand
and lead me into the kitchen
and sat me down at the table.

Everyone is drinking in the next room,
my father said,
so stay here
and don’t move
and don’t touch any of those bottles
on the counter.

I looked over at the bottles
on the counter
and then back at my father
who was being called back into
the other room
by the nice colourful
tipsy ladies.
My father looked down at me again
and must have thought
I looked bored
because he decided to give me
an important job
to do.
He asked me if I was responsible enough

to not let him down
and when I answered in the affirmative
my father handed me a bowl full of keys
and told me to guard it
with my life.
Everyone was drinking in the next room
and no one was allowed
to take keys out of the bowl
and drive home.
I was not to touch any of the keys
in the bowl

Then my father left
and I was alone
with the bottles on the counter
and the keys in
the bowl.

Strange laughing red-faced men
came into the kitchen
from time to time
to touch the bottles,
but I guarded the keys
with my life.

What you got there, little man?

I tried to cover the entirety
of the bowl’s opening
with my little hands
fanned out
and did not

When they left
I would uncover the opening
and look inside.
There were keys of all colours
on chains
with all sorts
of trinkets

fuzzy dice
and many insignia
I did not recognize,
all piled up upon
one another.
I closed one eye
and looked down into
the bowl.
When I shook it
the colours and keys and trinkets
all mixed together
in a new
I don’t know how long I sat there
shaking the bowl of keys,
but soon
my father returned and took the bowl
of keys.
In the next room
the music was turned down
and the laughter muted.
Moments later
my father (now tipsy as well) returned with the empty bowl
and told me that it was time for me
to go to bed.
Then one of the tipsy ladies
came in
put her arm around my father
and kissed him
on the cheek.

Uh, Gwen here is going to sleep over tonight,
my father said.
And your mother is going to a sleepover
somewhere else.
In fact, everyone has a sleepover
to go to now
so be a good boy
and get ready for bed.

I obeyed my father
and went and climbed
into bed.
He then turned out the light
and I tried to listen to the garbled
words on the other side of the darkened door
but soon fell

In the morning
I woke up
and went out to the kitchen.
Gwen had already gone home
and my father was making me
pancakes with syrup.
And then my mother came through
the door
with her sunglasses on
and went straight
to the bathroom.

And neither
asked the other
how their sleepover went
like they always
asked me
when I came home
from mine.

Ryan Quinn FlanaganRyan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian born author presently residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario Canada. His work has been published both in print and online in such places as The New York Quarterly, Windsor Review, Vallum, The Antigonish Review, CV2, Horror Sleaze Trash, Evergreen Review, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.

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