this deserves a title, but it's late & I've used fewer words than this the last four days
I watch him scurry down the block in the late afternoon sun and try to decode his fluttery hops and line-defying skips to determine which of two goals he’s hoping to accomplish - secretly outrun his lengthening shadow, or keep ahead of his father, who has a tendency to move at a slower pace at all times except when he’s walking 10 paces ahead of me, an invisible crown bouncing atop his head.
He pauses to thrust his left arm in the air like Judd Nelson striding triumphantly across the football field at the end of The Breakfast Club, and for a second, I can’t tell the difference between the neon orange exoskeleton that is his cast-clad appendage and the sun gleaming between the changing leaves. His boisterous greetings to neighbors are so loud; his personality even more so, it makes me wonder if the camouflage pants and military green shirt he’s wearing feels inclined to give up the fight. It must be difficult to blend into the surroundings when you’re constantly peeking outside safe cover.
If that isn’t enough ammunition to get him noticed, surely the humongous purple and yellow wig, procured at the previous evening's homecoming game through a series of hypnotizing blinks of his big brown eyes and a chorus of repeated pleases, has to be. The synthetic cloud orbits his tiny head like a halo of dandelion fluff blowing in the day's breeze, falling over those same big brown eyes with each fluttery hop and line-defying skip. It's a bold fashion statement that compels the neighbor three houses down to pause from his chores to chuckle and smile broadly at my boy.
Mercy, child. I surrender.
The sight of him running carefree through the neighborhood with his bright orange arm and Crayola coif made me happy, but an equally large part of me was jealous. I don't know at what age some of us let self-consciousness slip in to take over our spirit, but I dread knowing it could be any time now for my young boy. And me? I feel like I buried my brightly colored wig, whatever it might have been, some time ago, then forgot to mark the spot so I could go back and find it one day. More often than not today, I feel like I purposely mute my colors. Keep my head down. Don't dare run through the streets. It's been black here lately. So very, very black. But there's a boy without any cares in a purple and yellow wig who makes me want to try and brighten things up.
Or at least wave a white flag.