Wednesday, August 22, 2007


He was born on a Thursday, in the night. The birth was accompanied by no great happiness -- the child was a third boy, and brought nothing new to the household save his white hair. He grew up with the sense that he did not belong. He learned that hope is just a way to make someone cry. The ones who lived with him amused themselves with the flow of tears down his pale cheeks, until he learned the secret of cold anger. He learned the usefulness of rocks and sharp kicks. He learned never to forget, never to trust.

He felt an otherness that held his face still and kept his eyes watchful. He learned to listen for footsteps at his back. When he lay with his eyes closed, his eyes still followed the noises of the night. He found a sense of dread in the silence of the hours he spent in sought-out solitude. He understood that there are worse things than fear.

He never made friends. He never had guests. He had problems at school. When he learned to read, he always had a book with him. Books are better than people. But late in the night, after the light was finally out, in the creaking silence between midnight and dawn, he would stare into the corners of the darkness with unblinking eyes, aware that he did not need to breathe. Only then would he let the hidden parts of his heart move, and he yearned for someone to love, and he allowed himself to feel the truth that he was not wanted and had no place in the world.

All that must be decades ago by now, and whole lifetimes. He wonders though why the days are filled with stillness and dread. He wonders at the stiffness of his neck, and at the sharp pain between his shoulder blades that comes on in the night and lasts from midnight to dawn. He wonders what became of all the people in the world, and thinks he hears the echo of far off laughter but when he looks up from his book he finds his vision too blurry to distinguish between the shapes that move like wind-blown leaves and the flowing of water over concrete like tears down an ashen face.

He knows that everything past has moved to bring him here. He thinks that he made a bad decision long ago, but cannot say where. He remembers the passage of the sun with dread. He wishes he could remember what it was like to trust. He misses the familiar comfort of betrayal.

Now his hair is white again. Whole lifetimes have passed. The world is as still as bones, and only dust moves. He does not count the days. He remembers that he does not need to breathe. He lies awake in the dark, staring into the dark, listening to darkness. He knows there is something he should remember. He thinks he has left something undone. He does not know what.

Thursday's child has far to go.



G.W.C. said...

Sounds like my childhood. Strange that you posted this on my birthday.

Jack H said...

I was wondering why I wrote it.