Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Quicksilver Boy

This boy. Last night, he danced. Arms spread-eagled, he whirled about before Irish-stepping across the family room, only to collapse, laughing. There's so much joy in him. Why walk when you can run? And he does run, his coat unzipped against winter's worst and flapping behind him, arms, as always, outstretched, as if to collect whatever the wind might deign to offer. Tasked with getting the mail, he routinely scatters a few envelopes across our snow-crusted lawn. Some neighbor or other rings our doorbell to deliver our missing mail, and sheepishly we roll our eyes, murmur, "Twelve-year-old boys," as if that explains it.

But joy so naked and trusting, it costs. The wind can turn and bite. "What is he crying about now?," his older brother mutters, irritated. I don't answer: The world is made more beautiful by its ugly underbelly. The teen wouldn't understand, thankfully. Even tiny irritants wound tender, exposed skin. See, we need to wonder this: Which twelve-year-old will we find when we wake up in the morning? We never know, not one of us, not even the one of us who should by temperament be able to guess.

He frets for weeks about making a team. Then he makes it. It is with relief that I pick him up from school. I am expecting - I feel I have earned - a reprieve from his long and tiring worry. "Are you thrilled?," I press, willing it so. "Of course!," he grins. I could eat up his smile for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so filling is it. But then, impossibly, he is frowning. "Except now I'm really nervous about the competitions."

Caught unawares, again. I should have expected the underbelly. It never leaves us for long.


"I think you came into this world old and wise," I tell him, "and with each year you are growing younger." He nods, agreeing. And then sighs at the thought. "Wouldn't that be fantastic?," he whispers dreamily.

This boy. He makes me feel so much and so often. Almost, but not quite, as deeply as he does. I flip coins on the hour. 

But whatever it costs, for him, for us, I will pay, just to glance out the window and spy Mercury himself, running with delight and abandon, heedless of any obstacle, chasing rainbows because he can, and because they are worth everything. Who would, who could, tell him otherwise?


alejna said...

This makes me smile, and also tear up. Which is so fitting. Beautifully written, dear Sarah.

Amanda said...

Oh, yes, this.

Lately I've been desperate to find soft corners in a world that seem determined to be made of blade like edges. Thank you for keeping safe this rarity.

Bibliomama said...

So difficult, so rewarding. And lucky him, to have a mother like you to capture it like this - lucky us, too.

Veronica said...

To me, he sounds like you. Tender--to joy, to pain.