It was the strange lights that drew him from bed and into a jacket over his t-shirt and jeans half-zipped.
It felt too cliché to be real, running into the woods under the moonlight like some science fiction film
from his childhood. The grass was cold; he’d neglected cutting it to a reasonable length and could feel it
gathering between his toes through the front of his sandals.
It was this cold that stayed with him as he walked into the cave, a hole carved into the ground at
a shallow downward angle, just past the tree-line, that hadn’t been there a few days before. It came
over the entirety of his skin as he neared the lights, and intensified as he walked toward them. As he
stumbled nearer – why hadn’t he brought a flashlight? – the cold transformed, changed to a warmth.
The goosebumps remained on his arms but he felt comforted, safe. A subconscious familiarity was in it,
like recognizing a pleasant smell, forgotten since childhood.
The lights absorbed his chills as he walked into them, and he felt embraced by it as if he’d
jumped into a warm bath, and his eyes closed in a gentle relief that washed over him.
As his eyelids gently reopened, the view gradually came into focus – the movie moment wasn’t
lost on him even here, so predictable – the picture was warmly lit and speckled with soft colors. He
recognized it immediately, immediately losing all conscious thought of what had brought him here,
everything leading to this moment. He no longer registered his clothing or the hour, just the smile of his
mother, and her open arms across the field that was once his back yard in the country. He walked faster
now, the grass grinding between his toes to a paste. The woman, his mother, stepped once to her left, and
her arms parted – she continued to smile, and led his eyes with hers as he passed, following her gaze
next onto her outstretched right arm, his focus shifting past her fingers (even as they glowed in the
afternoon sun), onto the innocent face of a 7 year old Christopher. The small figure of his friend stood
there relaxed in a way that only kids can, hardly a care about him.
Chris stared back and smirked as young boys do, and wasted no time in jumping on his bike.
Running alongside him suddenly, his bike from the same age beckoned alongside his friend’s, and as if in
a dream he was riding it alongside – the transition seemed to happen faster than thought and
seamlessly, without question.
The feeling of jumping off a dirt mound was as exhilarating as anything a person could know, the
infancy of his hormones delighting every still innocent nerve, as they carved though the paths and found
new ways to excite each other and grin so hard it hurt, upon hearing the unbridled laughter that told
one of the other’s delight.
It was somewhere in this moment, as it dragged on for a time that he couldn’t ever estimate,
but hadn’t bothered to try, that he felt the warmth depart, the warm blanket of the moment slowly
sliding off of him as he lay paralyzed. The only thing he could recognize again was the grass – it was on
his hands now, and he could see lights again – the stars, staring back at him without emotion, stoic, and
fading… He was in his back yard, but just in his t-shirt and underwear, as if ripped from bed. As the
oxygen that had led him here, ambulatory, faded until he could no longer move his fingers between the
blades, he felt a smile, and could see his mother again – if only in the memory of his last thoughts on this
earth, a dream.