They sit side by side, profiles illuminated by the flickering light of the television set. The resemblance is unmistakable; at first glance one knows they are father and son.
Their silhouettes are identical. High forehead, curved nose, full lips, and perfectly aligned chin can be matched, one for one, in each profile. The very shapes of their heads, even the arcs at the back of their necks are alike.
But the visages reveal a difference that the silhouettes do not: a visual gap of 37 years. Father's face bears wrinkles and deep creases, results of hardships he has endured and troubles which now weigh upon his mind. His eyes look tired; they are slightly bloodshot, and he lets his lids droop lazily as he blinks. Though shaven, his skin is marked by dark hair follicles which give his complexion an uneven tone. He scratches his head and yawns, calling attention to grey splotches of hair and slightly yellowed teeth.
Inches away, his son smiles brightly. His complexion is clear and glowing, his face unmarked by worry. The home team is winning; what could be more important? His gleaming eyes are rivetted to the screen, determined not to miss a move. Watching players vie for control of the puck, he dreams of stickhandling down the ice, the roaring fans rising to their feet with anticipation. He fakes to the left, shoots...SCORE! The crowd goes wild as he raises his stick in triumph. His teammates crowd around him, and together they bask in the glory of victory.
Father doesn't dream anymore. His life is too full of sobering realities and practical dilemmas that demand attention. With a family to support, he dares not venture into the unstable arenas that fascinate him. He has stopped taking risks. He has stopped looking forward, and he rarely looks back,except on a night like tonight.
Father lowers his gaze and beholds his son. He sees a youth unafraid to hope, to dream, to reach for it all. And he remembers. He remembers being young and taking risks and searching for tomorrow in the stars. He looks at his son and realizes that this is where the dreams now lie.
The game ends, and his son turns to face him.
"Dad, you wanna shoot some pucks?"
Dad can think of a million reasons why he's too tired to play, but he pushes them out of his mind.
"Let's go shoot some pucks."
Sticks in hand, they leave the house to build dreams under the stars. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.