So I decided to participate in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. The idea is that each week you challenge someone with a writing prompt, and in turn you are challenged by a different person.
The challenge for my first week comes from runaway sentence, who challenged me to:
Write a first-person narrative that begins and end with you lying in your small child’s bed.
As I lay down the first thing I notice is how the smell of a child lingers long after they’ve gone. It is a sweet smell, a clean smell. My son’s bed is covered with images of Spongebob Squarepants. It’s his favorite show. Or at least, it was. My son is dead now.
His name is Daniel. Was Daniel. Will always be Daniel.
Daniel, he was our miracle baby. My wife and I, we struggled for a long time to conceive. The doctor told us that it would be impossible for us to have a child. Something about a low sperm count. And yet, ten months later, Daniel was in our lives.
I am lying on my back right now, on the ceiling I can see the adhesive glow in the dark stars that I put up. One night, Daniel and I were looking up into the sky, and he asked me what the stars were. I told him they were just like our Sun, only very very far away and that was why they looked so small. And in the typical fashion for a small child, that answer wasn’t enough. It just raised another question in his very young mind. Then another, then another. I answered to the best of my abilities, but what I remember the most was the way Daniel’s eyes lit up. He stood looking at the sky for a long time, then looked over to me and said, “stars are cool.”
I liked that; Daniels curiosity. I put those stars on his ceiling as a reminder for him to never ever lose that sense of curiosity; that sense of wonder and awe to the world around him.
It was a car, and a young man distracted on his cell phone. Daniel was five. I don’t have it in me to be mad at the young man. No one ever means to do what he did. Daniels death, and the guilt that goes with it is something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. And for that, I pity him.
I rise from the bed and move across the room to the dresser. On top are various actions figures and trinkets; such as Daniel’s first pair of shoes, bronzed over into a monument to the past. They are covered in dust now, everything is. We haven’t touched his room since his passing. I’m told it helps the healing process, to leave your child’s room exactly as it was at the time they died. I’m careful not to disturb anything.
Today is the day of the funeral and a chill runs up my spine just thinking about it. Since the day of the car accident my life has felt hazy, as if I was in someplace other than reality, like I was in a dream. The closer to the funeral the more the haze begins to lift. Like I’m waking up. No parent should have to bury their child.
I can hear my wife calling my name, saying that she’s ready. But I’m not. I’m not ready for the haze to lift, for this dream to become reality. And so, I walk back to the bed and lay down. I smell his pillow, look up to the stars, close my eyes and see Daniel looking at the sky, waiting for me, if only for a few minutes longer.