"Happier Lands" by Ernie Wang

"Happier Lands" by Ernie Wang

by Ernie Wang

Josh was eleven when he surpassed his dad Gary in muscle mass. He had surpassed him in strength years earlier, at seven or eight, but he feigned weakness and perfected his acting craft, and his exhales drew out longer and his face contorted with pained effort before he let Gary beat him in their nightly after-dinner arm-wrestling bouts. Josh would look at him with awe, to which Gary would look pointedly at Josh’s mom Sally. Sally, stone-faced, would studiously dip her spoon in her soup in even intervals, ignoring them both. Josh wanted to hug her and tell her everything was okay, or strike her with a single blow to send her flying across the room and scream nothing was okay. 

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