– Matteo J
“My mother died from lung cancer when I was nineteen; my father six years later – they smoked. I lived with my grandparents after they passed. My grandmother was hospitalized. Alzheimer’s. Eventually she just called me by my dad’s name. It’s funny, you spend your whole life trying to differentiate yourself from a person, trying to be your own man, but when you have the same eyes, the same nose, the same stupid laugh, it’s inescapable. My grandfather, I think he cried himself to death. My aunt committed suicide about ten years later. Debt makes people do things. My brother, Al, was robbing a bank down south. He managed to shoot a pig right in the face before they took him. Blam! By the time I got to forty, I’d seen so much death. So many people dying. It’s like I had the Midas touch, you know that old story? The touch of gold, but instead of gold it turned things dead. I can’t even grow a garden.” The old man laughed and broke into a coughing fit.
“Do you miss them?” I asked.
“I’ll see them again soon enough.” The old man shrugged, taking another drag from his cigarette. “You ever lost anyone close to you?”
“My brother and I used to play hide-and-seek,” I replied, looking from our vantage point on the roof to the fog-smothered buildings below. “I guess he won.”
A bird flutters across the smoky sky.
“Where are you going, birdie?” She calls, leaning over the balcony railing as if she herself might break into flight, her outstretched arm tracing its path.
“Sweetie, get down from there!” Her mother lifts her away from the ledge, setting the girl in her lap. “The birdie is going to hibernate.”
“Isn’t that what bears do?” I said.
Our daughter’s eyes widen. “Bears can fly?”
The bird disappears. I want to believe she’s just hibernating.
It’s morning. You know this without opening your eyes because you don’t want to get up. You know this means living in your body; you were dreaming. You are underwater, you breathe, you float, you watch people. People with familiar faces and unfamiliar bodies. They are naked, illuminated by moonlight sifting through water. Beams of light land on them, their faces, their eyes, their smiles, their bodies. You see them circling around you. You are naked. You exit your body and watch the being you inhabited sink; you find another and enter. They stand alongside you on the street. Clothed. You go to work, where you don’t recognize anything but their smiles. They all look the same.
Matteo J is a writer and student in Mount Royal University’s English program. He has a deep passion for writing and literature in all of its forms.