It was a man, a sad man that cried when Mom tugged on his arm. She used to take me with her to the red rocks to pull on his arm so that we could carry more of his sadness back home. It's kind of mean to pull on him like that, isn't it? No one likes to be picked on, not even big, tall, metal men like him. I told her that once, and it made her laugh and laugh but she never said what was so funny.

I hate it when she did that, like when Uncle Timmy would visit and tell her big kid stories that I wasn't allowed to listen to. Dad used to say that it was because he talked about pretty doggies using mean words. How could anyone be mean to a doggy, especially a pretty one? I'd ask my daddy this, and he'd just make a scary face, so I'd ask him why he was mad at Uncle Timmy.

Daddy never explained.

At least the giant metal man has a lady friend to cheer him up, like my brother does. Lee is the neighbor girl Alcy's "boy-friend." I don't like Alcy. Whenever I try to talk to her, she yells at me.

There was this one time when Mom was making the metal lady sad and Lee and Alcy snuck out to touch each other's face with their own faces by the red rocks. I don't really get why they'd do that, but I know Lee was grounded for a week and had to do a bunch of chores. I still remember the funny growling sound Mom made when she saw the two of them, kind of like a pretty doggy.

I like doggies. I have a doggy toy named Scruff since Dad won't let us have a real doggy.

I want a real doggy really, really, really bad.

Yesterday, Mom took me out to the metal man again, but it was weird because even though she stopped pulling on the man's arm, he kept crying. I told her she shouldn't have been so mean to him and his "girl-friend" all the time, and she started shouting all sorts of Uncle Timmy's mean words.

I didn't like it when Mom shouted.

She shouted a lot, especially at Dad and especially when she was hugging Uncle Timmy. But right now Uncle Timmy and Dad and Lee are all far away, so it's just Mom and me, well, and Scruff, too.

Did I tell you Lee gave Scruff to me? He weird, but he gave me Scruff, so boys can't be all terrible.

Anyways, Mom was shouting all sorts of mean things and she was stomping and crying and I was covering Scruff's ears like my daddy does for me and humming a happy song.

Mom fell down. She didn't get back up for a long time, so I started playing with Scruff in the sea of the metal man's sadness. There was a little pile of toppled ants all lined up like toy soldiers being squished by the little waves my toes made in the water. Mom still didn't stand.

I stopped and looked at her.

"Are you dead?" I asked.

"What?" She yelled, turning to face me. She suddenly seems so small next to the metal man and the metal woman, when earlier she was one of the only ones tall enough to stand beside them.

"Are you dead? Because you stopped moving and fell down all funny like so I thought maybe God got mad at you and that you died. Dad says all the sinners will go to hell someday and he gets really mad when I repeat things that Uncle Timmy said and since you said mean words—"

"Your father says a lot of things," Mom said. She stood up and rested a hand on my head, staring at the little toy soldiers dead along the coastline. "I'm not dead, and I won't be dying anytime soon."

But that was a lie, and my daddy said that liars go to hell too.