He lies in the bed. Still. More still than he has ever been his entire life.
His eyes, once sparkling with the brilliance of the million questions that sprung without end from his rapid train of thought— now veiled by the darkness of his eyelids.
His skin, once aglow with the flush of youth, the colours of sunrise— now drained of blood, the colour of ash.
His chest, barely lifted by the air that whooshes in and out of his nose; his breath, only a whisper.
And a man stands over the bed. His fingers twist together, over, and over again. His heartbeat drums against his ribs, his insides are searing and he. cannot. breathe.
And it is now, for the first time, that it occurs to him— the boy in the bed is just that— a boy.
The one who had dispelled the impenetrable gloom that once clouded every waking moment of his life; his constant companion throughout these golden years of his life, the one reason these years had started to matter to him— just a little child.
It wasn’t that he’d never noticed before. There had always been a tiny part of him that realised just how young the boy was— that feared for every scrape that he got into.
But it was always so hard to keep it in mind, not when he had always been so burstingly full of life— wild with energy, alight with enthusiasm, burning with curiosity. Not when his legs never tired of running, not when his mind never stopped its relentless drive to probe the secrets of whatever intrigued his searching gaze.
He’d always seen the kid as something else altogether: the invulnerable, the unstoppable, the irrepressible. Like a wildfire, like a battering ram— he would tear through whatever barriers stood in his way. He was not just a boy— he was a force of nature. Even if he ever faced death itself, he’d be holding his head high, looking it in the eye, invincible, unconquerable.
Never before had there been reason to notice the slightness of his stature. Never before had there been reason to notice the rather babyish features of his face— or that ridiculously juvenile tuft of hair that always stuck up from his head.
But now, with him curled up under the sheets, with his lips puckered and a little crease between his eyebrows and his eyelashes cast tightly down on his cheeks, the truth is:
He has never looked so small.
And now— he lies here, as still as almost death itself— and it feels so unreal, so unnatural, so terribly wrong. As though the sun has finally stopped rising, as though the stars have finally stopped shining. For he was the last person you could ever imagine to be shrouded in this inexplicable stillness.
But then, the man supposes, sooner or later, every soul on earth is consumed by this irrevocable silence, every body is befallen by the stillness of death.
And he can only pray that there is time yet for the kid.
when we’re young, we refuse to believe in the vulnerability of the people we love.
but then, there comes that point in everyone’s life when the rose-tinted glasses shatter.
and nothing is ever the same since.
( hush | the stillness of death )