“My brother was my best friend. He is- was- kind and thoughtful and the only kid who… who…”
I lose my words in the falling tears and they carry away each thought in one salty drop. I lose my words in the chapel where stained glass tints the black crowd with red. I lose my words in despair and sorrow and grief. I wonder if I’ve lost my mind as well. I wonder if I’ll ever get it back.
Our house feels awkward to try and fill the space that was once occupied by a happy child. A healthy child. A living child. Now it is clean and neat and quiet, so I go through the house and pull things from their places. I start slowly, tugging on some books, pulling on some cushions until I am consumed by the urge to create more noise, so that he knows I miss him. An entire bookshelf hits the ground, the vases crash and shriek, the curtains fall away to reveal a brilliant sunlight I haven’t seen in days.
“How could you?” I ask the sun, “How could you shine so bright today when an innocent boy is slaughtered? How can you burn so shamelessly when the whole world has collapsed?”
Then I collapse with it, my body breaking, my soul screaming, my heart pounding, my eyes drowning until a door opens and I dry out. There is my father, standing in the doorway of a trashed home and trashed son and trashed life just looking in. I can see the wishes on his face; I can see the pain we share.
“This is enough,” he says, surprising me with his complete lack of anger, ‘We can’t go on like this. Do you think he would have wanted you to waste our life? No, we live for him now.”
Nothing in the room moves but my father’s mouth, my father’s words. Even after he has walked away, they float and swirl around me, egging me on to follow. But it’s easier said than done. How can you fill this empty shell? It’s beyond hope because there’s only one person who could help me. But that one person is gone.
School is too bright for my eyes. The school is too loud for my ears. Each screaming kid, each stomping foot sends a shooting pain in my head. I am glad they become quiet when I walk by, although not for the right reasons.
I have missed two weeks of education, two weeks I will never be able to make up. The teachers pity me, their stares following the slumped shoulders and glassy eyes of a kid too far to help. They see a teenager led astray by his early woes. That is all I am now; a symbol of grief:
“Carter?” says Mr. Warner, “Could you come here a second?”
I glide to his desk as the other students file out the door.
“When I was younger,” he starts, “I used to always feel bad that-”
“Mr. Warner,” I interrupt, “I know you’re just trying to help and I’m sorry if I seem a bit preoccupied, but I can’t do this right now.”
I turn and walk briskly through the classroom door, Mr. Warner’s eyes following me forlornly. A part of me knows I should have stayed. He was only trying to help after all, but my skin is crawling. I don’t want to be around people. The hallway is coated with milling teenagers, laughing, shouting, hurrying to class. I want to escape it, I need to get out.
I start to push through the backpacks and headphone wires, but it seems like every step there’s some new obstacle keeping me from leaving this hell hole. I want to scream. I want to make a scene. But I don’t want anyone looking at me. Not right now.
I finally push out onto the lawn, letting the sun burn my eyes. The class bell cuts the air and I’m alone. Alone. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone.
I sink onto the ground, not to cry or anything, just because it feels like my legs can’t hold me up anymore. I close my eyes and look at the sun. All I see is red.
Sitting. Basking. Thoughtless.
Then the red turns to black. A clouds passed over the sun. I wait for it to pass. One second. Five seconds. Ten. It doesn’t move. I open my eyes and close them almost as fast.
Because hovering above me, right above me, there is no cloud. Or plane. Or any other earthly thing you might expect to harmlessly pass above you. No, directly in front of my face, maybe 20 feet off the ground, is a full blown, X-Files UFO. It hovers silently and I have to blink a few times to make sure I’m not just going insane. But I must be insane. No alarms are going off, no students streaming out of the front doors, no army tanks rolling up the street. Just me and a UFO.
Well, when a beam shot down from the middle of the shining metal disk, I can’t really say I was surprised. When it lifted me off the ground and I started floating towards a bright blue light, I didn’t even blink an eye. And as I got closer and closer, I felt myself start to nod off like some supernatural chloroform was taking ahold of all my sense all I could do was mutter, “Beam me up, Scotty,” as my consciousness was overcome by something completely beyond anything I’d ever imagined.
When I woke up, I could tell we were moving, but I couldn’t tell how long we’d been headed to… wherever it was we were headed now. I couldn’t move my head, so I tried my legs, then my arms. The realization that I was completely paralyzed is what really woke me up. It’s funny how helplessness can do that to you.
Now hyper aware, I realized I wasn’t alone. There was a figure coming closer, silently gliding towards me.
“Hello?” I yelled, “Who’s there?”
This figure silently continued, stopping right at the edge of my peripheral vision. Try as I might I couldn’t turn my head. I lay there and whispered,
“What are you?” I waited a while and then repeated it again.
A human face materializes over my own. A boy’s face. A familiar face. And I’m more surprised than when I saw this spaceship in the first place.
“Hey, kid,” he says, smiling, “I liked my eulogy.”