“Man Number Four” by Jaime Villarreal
I begged her not to let him move in with us. She said I was too young to understand anything. There was something wrong with that man’s smile—it wasn’t real. His eyes held dark secrets. How could she not see that? He never cared about her. He just needed a place to stay, someone to cook for him, someone to do his laundry. These apartments aren’t cheap—he knew that. He promised to help mom with rent, but that never happened. He’s been with us for three months and hasn’t even looked for work. This is her fourth relationship since dad died. I’m young, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that someone’s a creep. Mom has a knack for falling in love with creeps. That’s probably why they call them creeps, because they somehow find a way to creep in. Several minutes ago, I caught him with the woman next door. He doesn’t know I recorded them. He just knows that I saw him cheating. If you look up and squint your eyes, you’ll see my mom’s boyfriend looking down at me. I’d point him out if I could, but I can’t feel my limbs: my toes, my fingers, nothing. I can’t even turn my neck. In fact, I can’t even blink my eyes. I’m not sure if I’m still alive. He thinks mom will never know what happened. I sent the video to her phone just before he pushed me. I saved her from man number four.