Andy didn’t speak. He heard. His head turned wherever sounds came from, but he didn’t speak.
He didn’t see either, just shadows and movements.
Andy didn’t walk. If he was held up, he’d take one step, cry, and sit again.
We tried to interact. Roll balls. Clap our hands. Sing songs. Sometimes he’d ignore us, oftentimes he’d cry. Only mami’s voice calmed him. She fed him. Changed him. Bathed him.
Andy lived in an impenetrable, non-communicative, dark world filled with shadows and sounds. He passed on at age eleven. He would’ve turned 54 this October. Instead, he’s an eternal infant.
“I have you,” he sighed. Or was it I love you? Clarissa’s eyes jolted. How to clarify without disrupting the afterglow? She loved him so much. Or did she? Did she really know love? It was too soon, in her opinion, to face this crossroad. There had been previous disappointments. She wanted to make certain. Oh, but how she hoped he said love and drifted to a light sleep. The room filled with magic eight balls. “Does he love me?” she asked each one. “Concentrate and ask again.” Her face contorted. A guttural cry escaped. “Love shouldn’t be this hard!”
The crisp air hinted autumn. The sky azure, darker than sky blue, lighter than sapphire, devoid of clouds. Suddenly, police began to run south. A buzz erupted. “Did you hear? Did you hear?” I walked swiftly through Times Square and held tightly to my purse, aware that scoundrels strike when police are distracted. The buzz escalated to shouts of twin towers. Planes. Fire. Panic gripped my heart. My husband and many of our friends worked at the World Trade Center. Hours crawled before we learned that he and all our friends narrowly escaped the horrors. We were the lucky ones.
Captain dug in the front and rear anchors, securing the pontoon in place. As soon as he gave two thumbs up, the gang jumped in. All, that is, except Lily. She hesitated. The water was waist high and looked clean, yet she fixated on the lake’s boggy bottom. She shuddered at the thought of dead sea life mixed in with sand filtering through her toes. Seconds turned into minutes. The sun continued to climb. Soon beads of sweat dripped down her ears and cleavage. The building sweat washed away the phobias. She jumped in and welcomed the refreshingly cool water.
A nearby cat meowed. Liz jumped. Her heart raced and hands became sweaty. She rationalized her fears were irrational, but the body’s physiological reactions were all too real. Her knees trembled at the very thought of fainting onto the very street where dogs peed all day long. She willed her legs to move faster. When she entered her apartment, she collapsed against the door. The acrid taste of fear lingered in her throat. She knew she had to do something. Contact someone. She swallowed Nyquil and waited for its numbing effect. Tomorrow she’d call someone. Today she just craved sleep.