I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying by Matthew Salesses

The boy brought home an open carton and set it on the kitchen table like it meant something. I sorted through looking for worth. A few new dinosaur toys, a salamander tail (real), two self-moving Matchbox cars, and, most strangely, nine fingernails I hoped were false. I didn't want to touch them to tell. I still wouldn't know where they'd come from. They were painted pink, and their public display baffled me. Had he left them for me, or the wifely woman? I waited for him to come out of his room, not wanting to interrupt whatever he had to keep private. He stepped out in his "best" shirt, all black except for a white line down the middle. He called this his tie—I had tried to give him a real tie but he hated anything around his neck. I asked him, "Another tail?" to warm him up, thinking about our dead cat. He said, "Dad," with a tremble, and I realized at once that he was trying me out, "this is my apology box."