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Michael

The taste of coffee soaping up my tongue, channeling the caffeine to drown the unsettling fingers of doubt that have been spreading through my mind ever since I met Michael. I have been a pastor for…too many years now. I lose track. But I know what typical teenaged boys are supposed to act like. I know the startlingly blunt language they often resort to, the antics of their self-proclaimed repression; I know what their minds think about when they’re not sleeping, studying or partying. I’m not bragging on my abilities of perfection. I just understand teenaged boys and Michael was not average. There was something about his spinach green eyes, staring wildly through thick-rimmed glasses, that ghosted every step I took while going about my daily pastoral responsibilities. His simple words, the few I’d heard him speak, tasted bitter when I tried to repeat them during a counseling session. Maybe it was because Michael’s words were meant for me, no one else. The carefully-mapped movements he made tried to flow through my own body until I hastily stopped them and sat down at my desk with the cup of coffee. If I were anyone else, I’d wonder why he didn’t resort to suicide. No exaggeration there; his situation must be base. I have never seen anyone in such poverty and desperation; his sneakers are held together with duct tape, and what little possessions he owned were hefted in a bulky laptop bag that has almost never left his shoulder. Compared to some third-world adolescents I guess he’s not that bad off; at least he has one other T-shirt that I know of, stuffed in that laptop bag. But there is something in his timid eyes that make it painful to look into them for more than about three seconds. Something must be keeping him alive. I wish I knew what his source was, I’d give up my notions of the Almighty and chase after it. Or maybe it’s something to do with God Himself, something I just haven’t discovered yet. All I know for sure is that Michael is more alive than most of the people I hear breathing, see moving, feel walking down the halls of my church…





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