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Fading

A boy in a dark purple shirt stood facing a lighter purple sunset. He stared at the sky and flipped his fuzzy blond hair out of his eyes. Behind him stood a man with dark hair cut close to his head, wearing a too-big black t-shirt and khaki shorts that stopped just below his hairy knees. His shoulders were broad and threatening, and as he smoked a cigarette, they repeatedly rose up slowly, then dropped quickly.

“Jesus, Colin. What’s wrong with you?” The man spat with each word, his cigarette dangling from his chapped lips.
Colin turned from the sunset to look at this man he had known for so long, but never really trusted. He searched the man’s dark brown eyes for some ounce of care, and found none.
“Here, have a smoke.” The careless man held out his hand, offering the Malboro between his thumb and forefinger. Colin looked at it for a moment, then heard his mother’s sweet southern accent: “I trust you, boy. I trust that you can make the right decision.” She had said, smiling softly at him and placing one gentle hand on his cheek, the last time he’d talked to her. He had just stared at her, wishing he deserved that trust. His mother, the only person he’d ever truly felt loved by, looked at him with care for one second longer, then pushed her graying blond hair behind her ear and returned to her oven to check on the baked ziti she was cooking. Now, Colin wished with everything he had that he could be different, for her.
“Do you want it or not?!”
But he couldn’t.
He grabbed the cigarette, placing it gently between his thin lips. He reached in his pocket for the lighter that was always weighing him down, and lit it. Then he turned back to the sunset, once again hearing his mother’s voice: “You’re seventeen, Colin. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” He didn’t remember when she had ever said that aloud, but he knew she would have, and he knew she was right. He didn’t want to remember his mom, and things she would have said. It hurt too much, and it made him angry. He took a drag of his cigarette.
The man was talking to him now, and chuckling occasionally at his own jokes, but Colin did not hear him. As he stared at the retreating orange sun, the wind blew his light hair back in his face. Innocence sparkled in his baby blue eyes, but was quickly fading. In that moment, he knew the one person he really needed, right then and there, was his mom. But she was the one person he didn’t have. Not anymore.





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