On the Cusp

leftwriter By leftwriter, 7th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Feeling the bittersweet end of innocence approach as my son and I spend a summer evening together.

On the Cusp

"Remember when we looked for fairies in the woods?"

He means a century ago, last summer when he was four. I stop walking and really look at him, his choppy hair ruffling in the evening wind. His eyes are sad by trick of genes, not mood, but still they pain me sometimes. He's sensitive, his daycare teacher had told us in a conference, with surprising love in her voice, very sensitive and very hard on himself.

"I remember." I hear the question beneath the spoken one, but will not answer it unless he forces me to. He bolts into a run and I follow, my muscles sluggish from hours (days, months) of managing his toddler sister, whose slumber has now released us to this uninterrupted togetherness. Something in the sky slows me down. It's the layers of gray and blue and pink, and the stark outline of a distant house against the layers. I was five once, pausing in my play one evening to contemplate a sky like that.

He doubles back to run alongside me, so that both of us can discover the world at the same time. His approaching bedtime looms ahead. His hand is small and warm when it slips into mine, and I balk at the comfort I take from him. He is sensitive and intelligent and too old sometimes. In another year he won't see it as easily, this pulsing magic in a spring evening.

His chattering voice comes up to me, full of memories already stored in his young brain. Remember when we named all the trees...remember when just you and I walked to the duck pond...remember...remember... He is grasping at me, at his younger self, at aloneness and a chance to catch his breath. He and I both feel the nearness of Kindergarten, of the end of something familiar and the beginning of a long unknown.

We turn and gaze across the long green lawn, to where our fairy woods separate us from the neighbors. He glances up at me.

"Are fairies real?" He finally asks; it is the question he doesn't want to ask but can't help himself. I don't answer, because neither answer will be enough.

Instead, I smile, flicking my eyes to the woods with meaning before I look back at him, and he smiles too. Then we race toward the trees together, to outrun an attention-hoarding little sister, to outpace a chronically ill husband, to escape grownup things that come too soon.

We are five and there are fairies.


Childhood, Fairies, Growing Up, Innocence, Kindergarten, Life Changing, Mother And Son

Meet the author

author avatar leftwriter
Leftwriter is a poet and flash fiction writer with some published articles under her belt and who occasionally dabbles in other forms of writing as well. She currently lives with her children and dog in Cricket Hollow, Ohio.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
8th Sep 2010 (#)


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