All the colors were mesmerizing; the reds, yellows, and blues all morphing into one color that was neither describable nor replicable. Mica couldn’t look away, but at the same time, he was afraid to stare too long and end up getting lost just like he did in Raina’s eyes. Her eyes told a story, reflecting the mirror image of the sunset as she sat motionless on the front porch. In them he could see the soft blue of the sky that were his tears on the eve of his father’s funeral. He saw everything, from the happiest of yellows that he felt the first day he spent in the carriage house on his ranch, to the crimson red of the blood he felt coursing through his veins as his breathing struggled to keep up with his rapid heartbeat, forever reminding him that he indeed was still alive even if he felt that this shouldn’t be considered living.
He didn’t want this to end; he didn’t want any of it to end. That’s all that happened lately. Endings. And not the kind that you look forward to, either. There was no “they all lived happily ever after.” The endings came crashing down with the story not yet finished and Mica couldn’t keep up. It was like leaving halfway through a movie, or having the favorite part of your favorite book being ripped out, burnt, and forgotten. Mica wanted the resolution, he wanted to be sure everything was going to be okay. Instead, he felt as if he was drowning in endings and deaths and expirations. He kept running down different streets to escape, only only to slam into a brick wall when he got where he thought he was supposed to be going. Sometimes, he thought about stopping. No more running, no more endings, nothing.
It was during these times that Mica thought of his mother, the beginning of all endings. She used to put feathers in his hair when they visited the ranch, and they would go out searching for peacocks and flamingoes and other weird birds that Mica later found out weren’t even native to the state of Montana. She would make him a peanut butter sandwich and together they would feed the crusts to the squirrels that gathered when his mother would sing. Oh, she was an amazing singer. When she sung, the wind ceased so that the land could listen, taking in every syllable that came out of her mouth and savoring it like the sweet caramels she always kept in her purse. She would sing all sorts of songs, from carols at Christmastime to folk songs Mica’s grandpa had taught her siblings and her when they were little. Mica hated himself for forgetting some of the melodies and words to his favorites; he tried writing them down one year and ended up throwing his notebook at the wall violently in irritation. The hole was still there, both in his bedroom wall and his heart. It frustrated him that he sometimes couldn’t recall the sound of her voice. He remembered it being so soothing, like when she would sing to him as he drifted off to blissful sleep. It angered him that he remembered her yelling more than singing before she left. He wanted to have only beautiful memories of the time spent with his parents, but all of that was so quickly replaced by pain, just as the striking hues of the sunset suddenly became the pitch-black darkness of a cold winter night.
“We should go inside,” Raina said, shivering.
In the past, Mica would have agreed, but tonight, the cold was comforting; it made him numb. He looked up at the bright moon and yearned to tell it all his secrets. That he was afraid. Petrified. It was in a room full of crowded people when Mica felt most alone. Would he spend the rest of his life searching for things that made him feel whole? He pulled Raina close to his side and felt that they no longer fit perfectly as they once had. He used to call her his missing piece, but now it seemed like he was just trying to make her fit instead of searching for what he was really missing. He had already missed so many things in life, if he tried to search he would spend eternity looking for the perfect fragments.
The stars were bright tonight. Mica looked for the constellations his dad used to point out to him when they were working late. Orion’s belt. The big dipper. The little dipper. Something else he couldn’t remember, and didn’t really want to try to recall. He was tired of trying to recall the good and failing at forgetting the worst.
Raina got up to go inside, but Mica sat there, powerless to gravity among many other forces keeping him from moving forward. Forward. Mica didn’t even know how to move in any direction, let alone forward. He was like the pirates he used to be fascinated by and act like as a kid, looking for buried treasure. Except Mica didn’t have a map, a compass, or any idea what the treasure even looked like. He didn’t have a ship, he didn’t even know how to swim. He knew how the treasure felt, though; it was a breath of fresh air. It was a glimpse of the sun after being stuck underground for longer than one could remember. It was the first dandelion after the snow melted, waiting on the side of the road to be wished upon, somehow still immaculately holding onto all of its parts. It was a sunrise, as beautiful and as mesmerizing as a sunset, but without the cold ending and the unpromising future of the moon, and instead the promise of a sunny and new day. That is all he wanted. A new day. A fresh start.
Mica decided to sleep outside that night, although he didn’t get much rest with anticipation of new beginnings.
Photo by Jon Katz