From: Simplify by Tod Goldberg, OV Books, 2005.
The narrator of this story, Teddy, recalls the summer of 1973. He was 13, his 22-year-old brother Kenny returned from Vietnam, and Sarah Collins, the little girl across the street, was kidnapped.
Just before her abduction, Sarah skinned her knee playing hopscotch and Teddy went into his house to get her a Creamsicle. He returned in time to see a car speeding away, a flash of Sarah's face, and is wracked with guilt over what he could've done. Kenny apparently witnessed the abduction itself, unnoticed by Teddy, but he vehemently denies being in any position to help and begins to behave erratically.
While Goldberg's prose is stark and moving throughout this collection, the point-of-view character in each story has a distinct voice. Teddy contrasts Sarah's kidnapping, which seemed to happen in an instant, with Kenny's slipping away over time.
A prize-winning journalist and author of the literary novels Living Dead Girl and Fake Liar Cheat, Tod Goldberg teaches creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.