“I can’t do this anymore. But it’s not you. It’s just- it’s not fair to you, but I have to go. Happy birthday, buddy!”
He turned his back to us- to me. His back that I thought would protect me. But I see myself as a constellation etched to it- a distant memory. I was seven, old enough to understand, but I was just seven.
I’m 15 now- well, 16 in a few minutes. But I hate birthdays. I lay on these dew-covered grass. I look up the night sky to see arcane pieces, I try to understand why. Where am I in this sea of lost stars? But ancient is the flicker of light.
A flash unveiled from the shadowed depth. And I was reverted to a boy with irreversible happiness.
…I see the sky where my dad is. The dad I never had. But the next I know, the universe takes him. No! The sky cries in misery, and the bleeding air suffocates me.
I woke up drowning in sweat. I reach for the surface. Air! But waves crash on me and smash me further to darkness. I close my eyes. Breathe. One, two, three- an old melody. One, two, three- a repeating harmony.
Once I grasped some air, my body caught fire, and my head hurts. I don’t feel so good. So I take some meds. I still don’t feel better, so I take some more, more of it, and more. And crawl my way to escape where my dream sky descended unto me.
I saw dad and reunited with my constellation. “Dad!” I hugged him. I don’t want to let go. I won’t.
But life happened. I woke to the blinding lights of a hospital room. Where is that reality? Why can’t I have it? And why do I have to cry over it?
I furiously wiped my tear-clouded eyes. My mom is sitting with her head on my bed. I know she’s awake by the sound of her sniffs. I felt a pang of guilt. I’m a disappointment.
“Hey, mom,” I whispered, “What if you lost me?”
“I lost him (you) long ago, baby.” She flashed me a tired smile.
“But I know he’s trying. He tries so hard to find his smile and snatch back his life. And what hurts me is he keep pushing me away. He doesn’t have to be alone, you know? But he feels like he is; I’m here, but he feels like he is.” She held my hand. “I’m here.”
If only I know how to be not a shadow.