I had stayed home sick from elementary school. It was a frigid winter day with ice crusted on the windows. My bedroom was at the back of the house, far from the furnace and slightly colder than the rest of the rooms, and I was sick in bed, dreaming all the stale dreams of a day in bed underneath all the layers of blankets, huddled within, pretending to be deep in a cave, leaving that one little hole for light and air.
In the afternoon I watched my cartoons on the black and white TV that sat over on the dresser at the foot of the bed. In my excitement over whatever show I was watching, I started bouncing on the bed and I made a gesture like I was about to throw something at the TV. Just as I did this, I noticed one of the kids from school peering in at me through the frosted window across the room. He had his red gloves cupped around his eyes, and his face pressed to the glass. I could just make out the shape of him through the ice. I didn’t think anything of it. I just gathered up my thick bundle of blankets and wound them around me and rolled back over facing the other way.
But later on in the evening, as I got out of bed and crept out into the hallway, I heard the voices of my classmates coming from the living room. I came down the hall to find them gathered around messing with our old stereo cabinet, the type with the wooden lid that lifts up to reveal a turntable and radio dial. My father sat in an armchair among them, a darkened silhouette shape against the rosy light of the winter evening window over his shoulder. I couldn’t see his face, couldn’t see what he thought of all of this. My classmates just kept fiddling with the stereo knobs and laughing and telling my father how the kid had peeked in at the window and seen that I wasn’t really sick.
I got mad, listening to them go on about it. I had come out from the bedroom still wrapped in one of my blankets, and I let this fall to the floor as I gathered an outraged breath and prepared to tell them all that they had no business staring in my windows and that the gesture that they’d seen had proven nothing and that they were all just looking to start trouble. But then my father was there behind me, still dark and unseen, and he told me over my shoulder to calm down, to let it go, that none if it mattered as long as I knew the truth.