I was never good with goodbyes.
I always felt a bitter taste on my mouth when I saw someone of whom I liked leaving. Not because of the fact that I would miss them, I actually was always lingering for a little bit of sorrow from time to time. No, it was because I could never express to them how much I cared. It was always too hard for me to show emotions when I was a kid. I always felt naked and vulnerable by doing it. So much I wished to be different, to don’t disappoint others, to not make them think I’m some kind of sociopath.
My grandma always used to say I was just shy and it was ok to be so, and everyone seemed to agree with her. All besides me. I felt I was weak, but at the same time, I felt this fire inside burning hotter every day. A wonderful woman my grandmother. Her priority was always our happiness, her entire universe was about me and my sister having a smile. My happiest of memories are the ones from our trips to my grandfather’s village. An Oasis of white and orange in the middle of the golden grain sea. People would thank God for every gust of wind in the summer. Sometimes we would feel we were inside an oven, but on our innocent young minds only dreams were being cooked. We saw the enormous mantle of orange red rising every morning as the biggest miracle someone could ever witness. The world was so real, it was so present. I made sure I was always awake to see it. I would go to the open fields and I would find the tallest rock to sit on and I would just stand there, being cleansed by the light of all my problems and sins. That place saved my life more times than I am able to remember. My safe port, my knowledge that there is always hope for a better time, a better place. But, maybe those same sunrise colors that made me dream so much were the ones also making distant from everyone. I could always feel what others were feeling, or so I liked to think. Most of the times, it was the truth. Even though it was very hard for me to start a conversation or to share any thoughts, I felt more for others than they could ever imagine, and I know they imagined I didn’t had a thought about them at all. I self-proclaimed myself as an observer. Someone who was in this world to catalog and understand things. Not in their upper layers of common knowledge or unquestioned tradition, but within their very core. The why of things. I was indeed a shy kid. Full of passion on his heart, full of hope and full of fear at the same time.
Full of passion on his heart, full of hope and full of fear at the same time.
One summer afternoon, I and my friends were, like many times, at one creek, capturing every creature we could find so we could make them our dearest friends. Frogs, fish, even snakes. Life was a wonder to us. The creek was outside the village, so no one could see us. Being a “pack” of 10 year old brats, we couldn’t feel freer than with our feet in the cold creek water, being quite to listen to what sort of animal could be lurking on us. Something different happened on that summer afternoon. John’s mother came to call him because their cousins were visiting. We were hiding behind some rushes so she couldn’t see us. Me, John, my brother Miles and Peter. Mrs. Reed, John’s mother, knew us pretty well. She was a pretty tough woman. I knew John ran a lot of times, and sometimes he would come to sleep on my grandpa’s old storage shack. She called for him once and John didn’t respond. We couldn’t hear anything for a couple of seconds, and suddenly… “JOHN!!” – She screams like a banshee having a child two weeks already overdue. We all jump from behind the rushes, eyes gasping out of the sockets, with our arms and hands bent like we were squirrels. She continues her rant: “Didn’t you heard me calling you, John Reed?!” – I could see John was almost crying. His face was blushing and he was swelling up like one of the frogs we grabbed before. She took John’s arm and with nothing but despising discontent, she dragged him down the dirt road. Peter also left, fearing that Mrs. Reed would tell his mother he was burning down someone’s house or something like that. We were all just kids, but some of us were just luckier than the rest. John’s mother was just a machine, fueled by resentment and frustration, caused by her husband leaving her for someone younger. She forgot that John also lost his father.
I was alone with my brother Miles after that. We were also going back, taking our time, we would often stop to look to the horizon. Sparrows were flocking by the thousands as the evening came. I was looking up to them mesmerized, not thinking about anything, I was shelled from the world. What happened next was the world slapping my face and yelling me to wake up. Miles calls me when I was still with my eyes turned to the birds. I look to him and after a split second I realize the fear in his eyes. I turn my face to see to what he was looking at. A few dozen yards down the road, on the ditch, there was a red object. It took me a few seconds to realize what it was. A sneaker, exactly like the one’s John was wearing. We froze. I felt my feet getting numb and the ground swallowing me. Suddenly, the silence was broken. A scream brought by the wind. I was never so terrified in my life. Again, a second scream, now coming from further away. Miles grabs one of my arms, shaking like if he would be on a blizzard, although the heat was scorching that day. He shook me out of the shock. We looked at each other. We had never seen fear like that on someone’s eyes. We were brother’s… One would never leave the other alone. A third scream. Now, I don’t know if it was the wind or if someone was really running towards us, we could hear it closer. That was it… our legs finally responded and we started running back…
That was day one.
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