The North Star reflected off the eye of the brown little boy who beheld it that evening.
A salty tear had well up and now trailed down his cheek that still smarted from the earlier slap that was now starting to turn his skin red even in the dark of his room. His back stung from the belt lashes too but those were familiar and less agonizing. He stood there at the window wishing to the star at the north for a different reality but unlike the movies the twinkling never materialized into a fairy godmother to grant him his wish.
Her mom’s mean ole terrier made it so that we had to keep her bedroom door closed when I came over to visit. Some of the time we flirted with our college work. A few of the times we fought in hushed voices because her parents were in the nearby living room. Often we would sit on the floor listening to Chris Isaak cds on the boom box fashioned to look like the front of a Jeep. We watched movies in the days of low definition and sometimes we fell asleep halfway through. . We played a lot with her state of the art Polaroid camera. There were a lot of longing stares and making out sessions. We were like magnets then that just needed to be joined together. Very very late at night I would sneak out so as not to wake up the dog and I would drive back home to Boyle Heights where my dad was still awake with a lecture ready.
When that was over I would call her and we’d talk until we fell asleep.
I was the first person that has loved him to touch his hand. His bright blue eyes would meet light for some time and in this brave new world touch was all he had. With his wrinkly miniature hand he grasped my trembling finger and I felt his hearty grip as he squeezed. Years have passed since then and now his paws are as big as mine. They are thin, smooth and would be flawless if he didn’t chew on his nails. They are in contrast with my sun beat skin, protruding wrinkles and a slight tremble at some fingers. His grip is much stronger now and when we play he’s hurt me and I’ve told him countless times to take it easy on me. I can beat him at a Thumb War but my days are numbered. He talks with his hands like I do and I get a chuckle every time he gets animated and those palms are moving a mile a minute. He reaches out sometimes on a walk and I will never deny him that feeling that I’m there for him.
I could not bear to be without him and not have another chance to feel his hands. That is why the passing of young people hurts so much even when they are not mine.
At the end of my days I hope I won’t become that guy that says “I told you so.”
Instead I want to have grown up to be the man who was known for kindness, his long stories, his laughter and an open mind. I want to go knowing that I shared all the wine with my friends during the good times and bad. That I helped realize bright and realized children who will make their mark. I’d like to leave knowing that I brought many more smiles to my wife’s face then tears down her cheeks.
Then I would like to go back to the dust from which I came.