A Still Time

In his dream, Solomon was asked a question.
"Does time stop?" He thought for a few moments.
"No, it waits for no one."
"That's a good answer," the stranger commented.

Solomon stared at the man in question.
"The sunset is beautiful"
"Who are you?" Solomon asked.

The man was dressed in white. His face was hidden by the hood he wore. Though Solomon could not find the stranger's eyes, he could tell they were fixed upon the horizon.
"I am as you see me here."
"That's not what I meant. Your name."

The stranger chuckled. No reply. A slow breeze greeted the two while silence persisted. Solomon turned to face the same direction as the stranger.
"Isn't the sight breathtaking?"

Solomon eyes widened. He saw a sea of prairie filling the horizon, and a sun setting in the sky above. The tall grass shrouded a small patch of open field, and Solomon realized he stood on this island. A lone, crooked tree stood next to him, gently swaying its branches with the wind. The scene was like a painting, a picture capturing a still time.
"Tell me, does time stop?" asked the stranger.

Solomon turned to face the man. The breeze intensified into a gust. Solomon squinted and shielded his eyes. He saw the stranger turning into sand, flying away with the wind. As soon as he scattered, a bright light erupted, consuming the view in white. Blinded by the light, Solomon closed his eyes.

The boy opened his eyes and found himself in his bedroom. Solomon fell off his bed. A buzzing alarm clock flashed 6:45 AM, October 16th- moving day.
*

The curtains were pulled apart and faint light touched the room. Dawn progressed enough to tint the grey sky in pink. Solomon left for the bathroom, weaving through closed brown moving boxes. He stepped into the bathroom and faced himself in the mirror.

"Dad! Is it true you made the house?" Said the excited, eight-year-old Solomon.
David laughed heartily placing his hand on his son's head.
"Sure did! Of course, I had a wonderful team from the real estate agent."

Both Solomon and his dad stood on the front lawn of their new house.
"That's amazing dad! But you said this was mom's birthday present. I wish I got something too," Solomon crossed his arms. David playfully smacked his son's head, "aw c’mon champ, your mom is too amazing for me not to get a nice gift."

Solomon grinned and pounced at his dad. David dodged and ran as his boy chased him. Solomon tackled him to the soft grass and the two laughed.
"Isn't the gift a bit too big?"
"Hmm I might've overdone it"
"Did you spend a lot?"
"Let's keep the money a secret" winked David, placing a finger on his lips. Both Solomon and David laid back on the grass and watched the passing clouds. A steady breeze kept them companied. "Say dad, I was born in this town right?"
"Yep."
"You and mom too right?"
"That's right."
"How did you two meet again?"
"I fell asleep next to this small tree in the school's courtyard during first day of school, and your mom kicked me awake."
"Mom told me you always slept in class and barely did you homework." "She would know. She was the Class Representative and lectured me everyday."

Solomon laughed. Both his parents were medical researcher and worked in numerous universities. For their job they moved many times, taking little Solomon with them. "Can we stay here and not move anymore?" Asked Solomon.

The breeze stopped and David fell silent. Some time passed and Solomon sat up, looking at his dad. “Dad?"

David sat up too, keeping his gaze fixed upon the sky. His face appeared pensive. Numerous thoughts sprouted in David's head, making the reflected clouds in David's eyes appear pensive. He took a deep breath, turning his head towards his son and said confidently, "Don't worry, this will be our home forever!"

Solomon smiled with delight and hugged his dad, feeling overjoyed under the bright blue sky.
Solomon turned off the bathroom faucet, fully dressed and fresh. He passed by many photos displayed in the hallways. It took four years, after his family moved in, for the pictures to fill the house. Those smiling faces, bright and full, fell under the same grey spell as the hallways. Every room was like this. No vitality. There was a picture of his dad on a living room table. A white lily in a slim crystal vase stood next to it, and the flower appeared moist. Solomon's mother must have watered the plant before leaving. She said she had some packing left at her workplace. As Solomon was about to leave for school, he glanced once more inside his house through the opened front door. Brown boxes and grayness made the house appear sad. The white lily had droplets of water falling from its petal tip as if it was crying. Solomon slowly closed his front door, watching the house darken as dawn's light streaming from the opened door ebbed away. When the last ray of light vanished and the door locked, Solomon walked down the cold stone path. The front lawn was covered in morning dew. The grass, too, seemed weeping. Solomon walked away from the mourning house, distant and indifferent.
*
"Solomon!" a distant call came. Solomon turned and saw a classmate, Nathan. Small and frail with curly hair, the boy ran towards Solomon with his bag swaying side to side.
"Hey, how are you?" Nathan panted. "Tired," Solomon said. The two kept walking and fell into silence.
"You're moving today. How are you feeling?"
"There's really nothing to feel," answered Solomon nonchalantly.
"Aren't you going to miss the place?"
"No."
Nathan lowered his head, crestfallen. Their school came into view.
"I'm going to miss you. Every day was fun after meeting you."
"Yeah, it was nice"
"Yeah, remember the first time we met? It was after you moved into the neighborhood and I was getting bullied in school. You came to help me out, but you got pushed into a pile of mud.
"You came to class covered in mud and everyone laughed at you. I thought you would hate me for that, but you came up to me with a smile and held out your hand for a handshake. Since then, we had lots of adventures. I’m going to miss them."
Solomon nodded his head instinctively, tracing cracks on the sidewalk. The two walked in silence for a bit. The small tree of the school slowly crept into the view as they approached the school.
“Things definitely changed though. Sometimes changed happened to fast. Especially after your dad died, you-“
Solomon stopped in his track and Nathan caught his own tongue. Feeling ashamed, Nathan remained silent. He knew he said too much.
“I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry.”
“Forget it. I’m fine,” said Solomon, hurrying faster towards school. Nathan hesitated, watching his friend walk farther away.
Six months earlier.
“What do you mean we have to move!?” Solomon cried. Solomon’s mother kept her gaze transfixed upon her hands. This news was not simple to tell, for only an hour past after her late husband’s funeral. “Dear, I know it’s hard. But there isn’t much we can do. My income alone can’t support this house, so we need to-“
“He bought this house for you! It was a gift for you because he loved you!”
“I know. But you need to understand.”
“He promised we wouldn’t move again. He said I would grow up in this town. He PROMISED!”
“We need to go.”
“We’ve been living here for barely four years. We’re happy here. Why would you want to change that? I want to stay. I want to go back being happy. Dad would want-“
“Solomon, your dad is gone.”
“DON’T SAY THAT! Don’t make him any further away from us!!”
Solomon broke into tears. He was tired of this tragedy. He lost his father on a winter day when the car slipped on ice. He turned away and stormed to his room, away from the tragedy, leaving behind his weeping widowed mother.
*
Sunlight streamed through the window panel, illuminating Solomon’s desk. Solomon rested on his arm, aimlessly studying the small tree outside. The bell rang. Lunch period started. But before Solomon could leave, a unified roar from the class bellowed towards Solomon: “ SURPRISE!!!”
Solomon looked up and noticed his classmates pulling out party cups, plates, and utensils. On the front table, the teacher placed cupcakes, cookies, and drinks. Solomon then noticed others writing on the board:
We’ll miss you Solomon!
The teacher quieted the commotion down. “Everyone, we will be spending our lunch period with Solomon today. Please give him your goodbye cards and let’s enjoy while we can! We will miss you Solomon!”
One by one, students gave their goodbyes, kind words, and cards to Solomon. Solomon was surprised by all that happened in this occasion. As his classmates passed by, Nathan was the next to meet Solomon.
“Do you like this? I talked the class into throwing a party for you. I was worried that you might not like it, so I tried keeping this as simple. The class worked fantastically, and the teacher made sure to keep this as secretive, and the girls went crazy with the baking! We didn’t know what to do with them, but we were able to-“ “Nathan, it’s okay. This is really nice. Thank you,” said Solomon, slightly amused at his friend’s excitement. “Oh man, you like it! I’m so relieved! You’re not mad at me for the morning still are you?” “Nope.” Nathan smiled and let the others greet Solomon. A small smile touched Solomon face, inviting happiness to creep in.
*
Eventually Solomon’s classmates left for recess. Solomon followed, joining a game of soccer. Within few minutes, he received a kick in the shin.
“Hey get out of the way!” snapped the boy who injured Solomon. Solomon fell onto the ground because of the pain.
“Sorry, but I’m the one who got hurt here,” said Solomon
“That’s not my problem. You were in my way.”
“Excuse me?”
“What’s there to be excused? I’m telling you to watch it!”
Solomon glared at the boy but quickly turned away. He wasn’t in the mood to quarrel.
Nathan came and over and offered a hand, “are you okay?”
Solomon shoved the hand away, “I’m fine. You can leave me alone.”
Solomon pushed himself up and left the field. He into his empty classroom, sat at his desk, and sulked in silence. Solomon eventually became tired, so he placed his head on the table with his sight on the small tree, closing his eyes into slumber.
*
Solomon saw a man dressed in white. He was dreaming. He had this dream before. Puzzled while studying this stranger, the man asked Solomon a question.
Solomon replied, following the same dialogue from the previous dream. The stranger chuckled. No reply. "Isn't the sight breathtaking?"
Solomon eyes widened. He saw a sea of prairie filling the horizon, and a sun setting in the sky above. The tall grass shrouded a small patch of open field, and Solomon realized he stood on this island. A lone, crooked tree stood next to him, gently swaying its branches with the wind. The scene was like a painting, a picture capturing a still time.
"Tell me, does time stop?" asked the stranger.
Solomon turned to face the man. The stranger’s hood was put down, revealing his face. David smiled warmly at his son, “you definitely grew champ!”

Solomon’s eyes widened at the sight of his father. “What are you-“
“Who knows, but I’m here right now. Seriously, you’re such a mess: moping around and being distant.” David laughed.
“What can I do dad? I lost all hopes. I can’t prevent mom and I from moving. You lied to me.”

David fell silent and stared at his son. Solomon looked down, avoiding his father’s gaze. “What did I lie about?”
“That the town will be my home forever.”
“Was I wrong?”
“Dad, I’m moving.”
“So?”

Solomon became frustrated. David chuckled and said, “Would the town stop being your home after you leave? Don’t you have your memories? Can’t you appreciate the moments you lived though? Life is always changing, and you need to keep moving. Whether happy or sad, every moment is a blessing. Through them you nurture love. That is what defines your home, and going somewhere else won’t change that. You look back and find your memories beautiful. But there are more memories to come, so you need to look ahead. Nathan, your mother, and everyone are important to you. They care for you. They want to see you happy. Show that you care by sharing your feelings. Smile and tell them that you’re okay. Cry and say you need them. There is no shame in being human, but there is grief if you choose otherwise.”

Solomon stayed quiet. David sighed and let the silent continue. “What does your mother think of me now?” Solomon looked away, “Probably the same, that you’re were an idiot.”

David laughed heartily and playfully smacked Solomon’s head. “If your dad can understand what he just told you, then you can understand in a breeze.” Solomon laughed too. The gentle breeze began to intensify, and David placed his hands on his son’s shoulder. “It’s time for me to go. What an amazing blessing to see you growing up. You’ll be a strong man, and I’ll always be proud of you.” Solomon rushed and embraced his dad, and tears flowed down his face. A gust howled and a light began to intensify. David smiled and said softly, “don’t worry about crying. You’ll look back and find those tears beautiful, because they showed that you lived. Remember who you are, human, and be grateful. My son, continue forward and be a happy man.”

David turned into sand and flew with the wind. The light erupted, consuming the view in white. His father scattered away from his arms, and Solomon closed his eyes. He opened his eyes and lifted his head from his desk. Back in the classroom and five minutes before the break ended, he remembered his mom was coming to pick him up very soon. Solomon touched his face and found tears. He wiped them away quickly and looked outside. The lone tree was like the one in the dream. Solomon took his bags and remaining belongings, saying goodbye to his teachers and friends in the hallway as he left.
*

Solomon stood in front of the tree. This tree was in the dream. And it was the same tree where his parents met. He turned around and saw the sun low at the horizon. Like the sight from the dream, this one made time still. Memories of school, times with Nathan, his mother’s hot coco during winter, and his dad’s hearty laugh emerged in Solomon’s head like a flowing collage. A warm feeling swelled up in his heart, and a gentle breeze passed by. “Thank you,” whispered Solomon, hoping the wind could carry the two words to dad, wherever he was.
“Solomon!” Solomon heard a cry, turned around, and saw Nathan. “Thank goodness, you’re still here! I was worried I won’t get to say goodbye.”

Solomon smiled. “Hey Nathan, the sunset is beautiful. I remembered the happiness times I had here, and I wasn’t honest earlier today: I’m going to miss this place. A lot. I’ve been terrible to you but you’ve always been kind. I’m so sorry-“

Solomon stopped and noticed Nathan was crying. “I’m sorry, I’m just really happy. I’ve been waiting for you to be honest. I was so worried. I just can’t hold back these tears right now because of how glad I feel.”
Nathan sobbed silently. Solomon smiled and placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder, “don’t worry about crying. You’ll look back and find those tears beautiful, because they showed that you lived.” Nathan looked up and smiled upon these echoed words. “You’ll come visit right?”
“I won’t survive if I don’t hang out with you.”
“I’m glad, just don’t get into trouble okay?”
“Try not to get someone pushed into mud.”
“Don’t worry, someone already did that and became my best friend.”
The two laughed. A car honked. Solomon looked up and saw his mom waving from the car. Nathan wiped his face, “guess this is it. Feel’s surreal.”
“Yeah, maybe all goodbyes are like that.”

Solomon looked at the horizon once more, “surreal or not, it’s real. Now we need to move forward, carrying our memories, and making new ones. I won’t forget you, Nathan. I wish you the best.” He smiled and reached out his hands.

Nathan smiled, “I would very much appreciate that.” The two friends clasped hands firmly.
“Take care my friend.”

Solomon walked away, with the sun behind his back, and his friend watching him go. More tears fell. More signs of them living.
*

Years passed and a white car parked in front of the small town’s school. A man in a white T-shirt stood next to the lone tree, gazing at the morning horizon.
A gentle wind greeted the man. Time stood still once more as he thought the sunrise was beautiful. Solomon smiled. He was home.





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