The Christmas gift sneakers squeak against wood floors. I don’t understand the rules, or the yelling, or the endless variety of fouls that seem to be called in exponentially greater frequency as the clock ticks down.
I understand books. I understand words strung together with beauty and grace or sometimes lovely brutality. My boy isn’t much for reading, which is fine. This galaxy of hardwood, sweat, and orange satellites is where he wants to be.
I understand my boy. I understand how the wings on his heels are beating and bouncing as he shakes with the effort to stay in his seat, just off to the side of all the action. I understand, and I can feel how his heart flutters in his chest and flys against the cage of his ribs so hard it leaves bruises. I know how his long legs ache to pound the boards and run and run. I know that he would swallow the sun whole, cradle it in his proud belly, and rocket through the iron ring if he could.
I don’t have his will to fly. I am not the Daedalus to his Icarus. He is both father and son to his own ambition. I fear seeing him silhouetted against our shared star, stretching to his limit, testing the strength of his sinew and muscle. I know that hollow bones allow him to fly, but they also sometimes snap. I know this because I have measured their strength with my embraces since he first opened his eyes and turned toward the light.
So I sit here, night after night, my own heels bouncing in time with his dreams. I don’t watch the numbers or the other mothers’ sons. I watch my boy and squint against the brightness, with tears clinging to my lashes.
SARAH TOLLOK, a multi-genre writer, lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She has had works published in Intangible Magazine, Second Chance Lit, Orange Blush Zine, Sledgehammer Lit, ZiN Daily, and Six Sentences. Sarah’s short stories will be featured in upcoming anthologies with Improbable Press, Alan Squire Publishing, and Clandestine Press. Her debut book, Bookstories, will be published by Balance of Seven in 2024.