I sit at the dinner table, Father at the head looking more stressed than usual. Mamma to the right, tirelessly carrying on conversations for the fear of silence. And brother to the left, just a figure in a seat. Thoughts running rampant somewhere else. This is a house, but not a home.
Pictures on the walls remind me of times I hardly hear anyone speak about. Times of laughter, easiness and ignorance. I glace at Mamma as she begins to clear the table. Motions that are instilled by now begin to take place. Father resigns to the living room, brother races to anywhere but here. Mamma left to pick up the pieces.
I do what I can to help, but it goes unnoticed.
Morning light brings new thoughts. Lighter thoughts. Mamma has left for work already. Father finishes his third cup of coffee and slumps out the door. Today, will be different.
I walk the streets to someplace I haven’t figured out yet. But, the dampness in the air begins to fade and so do my worries. Nature has that way. Connecting you to the world again.
I let my fingers slide across the rough red bricks that make up Main Street as I walk by. The streets are busy, people going here and there, but nobody looks up and nobody sees me.
I do what I can to feel apart, but it goes unnoticed.
I keep my pace and arrive at the old school yard. I lean against the metal fence and peer through it. I let the coldness seep through my hands and it sends a shiver down my back. I hear kids playing in the distance and bells ringing on schedule. More instilled motions take place.
I recognize faces, maybe for familial reasons, but can’t place a name to anyone specific. I long to recognize someone I know.
I try to imagine myself on the other side of the fence. Maybe, I would have a big group of friends who like the same things as me. Maybe, I would have a dream of going to college. Maybe, I would be in love.
I do what I can to catch someone’s attention, but it goes unnoticed.
I continue on my journey and find myself at the entrance to a wooded trail. I can smell the rotting leaves and sap like a force drawing me in to explore. When my eyes finally adjust to the darkness, I can see a beaten path accompanied by paw prints. People have been here and often. Maybe, I’ll see someone. Someone like me.
The path takes me on an adventure through time. Weeping willows and big oak maples guide the tour as wise old men do. They show me the mountain top where I can see out for miles, and they show me the lake at the bottom where I can see down for miles. I feel the loneliness lift off my shoulders and feel comfort in my surroundings. Like the trees need someone like me to explore them. Maybe, being alone is better?
I hear sticks crunch behind me. Someone new? I see a black and gray track suit glide between the trees and then appear in the path heading toward me.
I wave as the runner goes by.
I do what I can to be seen, but it goes unnoticed.
It’s starting to get dark, so I find my way out of the woods and head for home. I feel sadness for I have not found anyone today that is like me, but I still have hope and a glint of light inside.
At home, Mamma has begun dinner, father has begun pretending to listen and brother is nowhere to be found. I try to study Fathers face. I don’t remember when he got so old. I can see the grays beginning to spring from his beard that he didn’t have before. He looks tired. He looks fragile.
After dinner, I decide tomorrow I will see what Brother is doing. Maybe, he can make me feel alive again. Like the old days. We would chase each other around the house and Mother would scold us, but we could see the proudness in her smile.
Day time comes, and Brother is getting ready. I wait for him in the kitchen like a child anxiously waits for Christmas morning.
Eventually, he comes in. I try to persuade him to build a fort with me today. Or take the guns to target practice. Or get the guys together for some football. Something. Anything.
He turns around like he was listening, but grabs his bagged lunch instead and walks out the door without looking back.
I do what I can to be heard, but it goes unnoticed.
At last I find myself out on the streets again. Wandering aimlessly trying to find something to do. Something is keeping me in this town, like a force that is unsettled. But, what I am to do? I am an outsider.
I try the convenient store, I try the park, I try friends’ houses. I just keep walking trying to find someone like me, but I don’t. I scream, I shout, I cry. Everyone is gone.
I do what I can to be remembered, but it goes unnoticed.
I go unnoticed because I am dead. I died a long time ago.
Stuck between two worlds and endlessly searching for a way to get out.
I do what I can to be alive again, but it goes unnoticed.