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Summer evenings have become a blur, a rush of heat and sunset, an aimless mass of broken and convoluted memories filled with clouds shaped like various animals, skies velvety purple with the promise of a coming twilight, and grass that browns and curls under the fiercely torching rays of sunlight. As the first signs of twilight whisper across the dying sky, I sit on the swing on my Aunt’s front porch. It is old, with curling bits of white paint, like giant flakes of dandruff, peeling off in random places and a rusty, noisy chain that threatens to give and probably will soon. In my hand is a bottomless glass of lemonade, the ice in it long since melted. The familiar creaking of the swing as has etched itself forever into my memory. A mild, dusky breeze brushes against my hairless head. Somehow I cannot move, not even breathe, as if the rosy, sunwarmed wind has sucked out my soul and tossed it away. But inside, my thoughts are churning like a waterfall, like an ocean, like the drain in the bathtub. There they go. Whoosh.
It’s dreamy, the way everything rushes together like melting snow. Sights sounds, smells, memories, all melts into a big glob of incomprehensible blackness. And then suddenly one thought comes out, one that is easy to understand because it haunts me. I see it in my dreams. You can’t run, you can’t play. You’re going to die. You’re never going to be cured, and you’ll die, and there is nothing you can do about it. No one cares… I grapple with these thoughts, as if I was wrestling a bear on the edge of a giant black abyss, but knowing, deep down, that I’ll never make it. I’ll never win. It’s a given, It’s a losing battle.
As my thoughts punch and fight and slash and scream in my mind, my face remains motionless, gray, lifeless. My eyes are not comprehending the manicured lawn, the dying petunias. My voice is gone. I don’t know how I lost it or where it went, but it is gone. Gone.
Sometimes I feel a warmth beside me, the presence of someone. It is the towering man that I call Dad, slipping his arm around me, giving my shoulder a squeeze meant to reassure that fails at its duty. I do not respond, do not even look at him, as my life slips away, withers away, into the black oblivion.
I see lights in my head. Tiny, flickering, golden lights, like the essence of stars, dancing over the grass, spinning in a tribal dance. Then suddenly I realize that I am seeing reality. The tiny lights are real. I like them. They are cute. They are enchanting. They are magical.
Suddenly my mind opens up. I see a door, locked for lifetimes. The golden doorknob is coated with cobwebs and mildew and rust. Before my eyes the film of age seems to crack and disappear, sinking and fading. Gone. Then the doorknob is turning, slowly, slowly. A click. The door opens a crack, releasing a groan as loud as a jet plane, opening further, further. Then, suddenly, the door hits a wall. An echo sounds across my mind, racing over the cracked memories and broken senses and sweeping them all away like a river, like a dam breaking. And then I see. I understand. I… comprehend, I know!
My cracked lips open, and out comes a voice. My voice. It is a voice cracked and whispery, like the voice of a ghost, but I know it is mine because I can feel it and I can control. My voice. My very own voice, back again, for me to love and care for, My Voice.
“What are they?” Says My Voice.
My Father’s lemonade glass, identical to mine, slips out of his fingers and crashes on the ground. Multicolored glass skids across the floor as the sharp noise pierces the air and yellow liquid begins creeping stealthily toward our toes. He looks at me, and his eyes are sparkly, sparklier than they have ever been in a long time.
“Fireflies,” he says. “They’re called fireflies.”
I look back at the scene before us, the green grass and darkening sky and tiny golden lights. I smile.
“I’d love to touch one,” Says My Voice.