“I haven’t seen you, even though you are here every day.” Mother purses her lips.
“How’s school?” Father furrows his brow.
Blue eyes stare from under a gray hoodie in the direction of Mother, then to Father and back to the green beans. A fork pushes aside the meatloaf.
“May I be excused?”
“Are you on drugs?” Mother locks a stare on father’s face as if to tractor beam the words out of him. To coax him to say the unsaid.
Father wipes the gravy from his gray beard. “Who have you been hanging out with?”
Silence. Not the smartest, nor the best, but the easiest shield. It’s certainly strong enough. A deep breath, a wave of dismissal and then the quiet is back, disturbed only by the echo of a latch from the closing door.
Once again in the night, they look from the window as feet sneak away. And in the morning, red eyes over cornflakes, the silence is deafening.
“Hurry, the bus!” Mother shouts.
In the distance, brakes creak. Papers and pens and books jammed and zipped into the backpack. A napkin flutters in the wake and floats to the floor. Father shakes his head and lifts it. A journal.
Four eyes stare and four hands take it. A shared glance that whispers, “But only because we are concerned.”
Father opens the journal to a single passage and mother begs it to be read aloud. He clears his throat.
It happens amidst colliding beings and in the vast solitude of space.
In the driest of deserts and in the mist on a mountain amongst its moss.
It’s found in the breath of a baby, in the walker of the withered, in the cane of the crippled and
within void of the lost.
Within consciousness and even in absence of awareness, it’s defined by struggle to sustain,
and in some: to foster, to fathom the depths, and in others, just to skim the surface for grits and bits afraid of the depths,
and in others still, to strive to neglect, and to some to forget.
A young fighter pounds, while a painter paints. A mother gives, and a father dreads, and drinks, to drown, and forgive, and rests his glass to lift it, and hangs to leave it.
We all shape our meanings of it, within it, because of it. Rough cut and fragile, strong and raw, and wrong.
Yes, it births us and holds us and slaps us. Or was it birth or before it, or in death or after it?
Companies leach it but pretend to foster it: A lie to thrive, yet only to profit.
But only if I squander it. And I’ll never share it.
I am afraid of it. But it’s okay. I smile and hold out my arms, lift it up and dust it off.
Chin up son.
Its definition: undeniable, unshakable, ugh. Undefinable nor controllable.
And in the silence of that mist on the mountain, crouched low in the moss, swords drawn, it fills our enemies so they can slash ours away, but only if we let them.
And within it, a whisper, a tiny scream to conquer, but only if you try.
It is, after all, the only true definition of you.
And we read it and write, only to understand it, to see it, to be it, for the first time, yet again, while some never do.
And I wish for an inch more. I’d take a mile, just to say that I’m sorry, and fearlessly, compassionately, daringly say, without the need for an echo, that I love you, I look up to you.
And you’d say: nice one, or best of luck, or better luck next time.
After all, this is my definition of life.
Father closes the journal and wipes the wetness from his cheek. There, beyond mother’s covered mouth, in the doorway, is a form. A hand, outstretched.
And Father sees him.
And Mother sees him.
For the first time.