I stood outside of my home looking at the sky, unable to go in. Brown houses and gray streets and head down, because when I look up long enough I feel like I will just ever so lightly and then ever so violently lift up. It’s the type of pain right under your ribs, and I'm not sure which direction to expand.
The eight year old comes running past me. “Kid,” I say, “look at the sky! Isn’t it beautiful?” Hopefully, eagerly. He pauses for a second and squints up. “It’s just clouds,” he says, a bit scornfully, and dashes off.
Just clouds? I’m discouraged.
I had hoped that it would be something more. Something worth writing down. Something big enough that when the eight year old was nine, and it was winter, we’d be sitting on the porch, waiting for his parents to come home, just like today, and he’d say, “I want to go watch T.V,” and hang his head, no car in sight. And I’d say, wait, I have something to show you. And I’d run into the house and pull out a piece of paper, folded over twice and tucked into a dictionary, and I’d pull it out, and it’d say, The Day That Was More Than Clouds. And he’d laugh and say, “I remember that day. It was so beautiful it hurt.” And I’d say, “That’s just the way I feel all the time.” And we’d pause. The day growing dark. And he’d say, “What’s the word for it?”
“Expand,” That’s the word for it. That’s the word for that feeling.
And I’d take a deep breath to let my chest fill out to show him. And I’d explain that if you keep breathing deep enough and full enough, you’ll expand and eventually lift off the ground. Into the air, into the clouds, into things that are gray and brown and ever so lightly and ever so violently—Leave.
I want to leave.
Lift up and go somewhere new. Where the houses are pink and orange and red, and have parents inside for kids on the porch. Who isn’t my kid, and doesn’t seem to be anyone’s kid, and, “Come on, Kid,” I say, “Let’s go watch T.V.” And I’ll go another day.
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Portland Fiction Project
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