Thursday, November 26, 2009


February 8, 2008

A boy crawled out from the dark hollows of the corner room. He was clutching his torn and faded photograph. Beneath his soft fingers I could see my image among the dust and age. He looked at me, then turned to the piano. He climbed onto the bench, a portion of an old pew that had been salvaged from a fallen church, and I watched his bare feet press the keys so lightly, before he pulled himself atop the old upright and sat down. His eyes met mine. I sat on the floor before him, and, unsure of what to say, turned my gaze toward the ceiling. He had my hands.

Aroused from the silence by the familiar sense of a presence behind me, I looked over my shoulder to see an old man standing at the door. I knew his face well.

"Boy, you best stand up," he said, "'Cause you're gonna be runnin' fast."

As soon as he had spoken, I heard the engine of a car pull into the street outside. I glanced toward the window, then turned to the old man. I felt an intense sense of urgency arise in my blood. He had my eyes.

"Here," he said, and motioned towards the piano.

With his left hand the boy held out the photograph, and with his right he brushed his light brown hair from his face. His feet were swinging lightly as they hovered above the keys. A car door slammed outside.

I grabbed the photograph and, without another look at the old man, ran toward the back door. As I stepped into the evening, the cold of the weather burned my skin. Still, instinct had taken over, and I ran. Barefoot through the snow and frozen earth, I ran.

As I passed through the gardens and lawns of other men and women, as I turned each corner, I could hear the screeching of tires in the distance.

My lungs had frozen over. The ice was clawing at each tissue. Photograph still in hand, and with my feet still on the ground, I reached the water. It stretched out into forever.

Lights from behind heralded the arrival of the car. I turned around, and against the blinding light and the dark, I saw the figures of two tall, slender men emerge from the automobile. I turned toward the water, closed my eyes, and jumped.

Unclothed, by Stars, Salt, and Skin

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