What do you do when the very ground underneath you shakes? When even the weight of your lungs feels too heavy to bear? When you don’t want to breathe?
Elijah looked at the mud on his dark brown shoes. He remembered the time he first bought them.
“Dad! Dad! I like the black ones!!’
“That’s not black, it’s brown. This color is called brown”
“But it looks like black, Dad”
“Not everything that’s dark is black, Ray”
“Okay, but I want this one!”
Ray had just turned 10. They were out to buy shoes for his first day at school. It turned out they had it in Elijah’s size too, so father and son came out of the mall with matching shoes. Elijah’s wife thought that it didn’t suit him. But he loved it. Ray was their first child, after 15 years of being together. He was like their safe key. They were never the type to want kids, but things were getting tensed and the distance in the bed was increasing each day.
His mother in law sent them a ticket to Columbia for their 14th anniversary. They didn’t really have plans for it, but it was a vacation much needed. They met Ray for the first time at the beach. He had come to play with his group from the orphanage. Each day they went to the beach, Ray would come back to greet them. And on the last day, they decided to finally sign the documents and they extended their stay so that he could go back with them.
As Elijah sat on the white chair, he stared at the slightly crinkled skin on his hands.
“Dad, why don’t you iron your hand?”
“What? Why? Why would you even say something like that?”
“Well, your hand’s different from mine.”
“Well I’m just growing old then”
He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of that. It suddenly felt weird. He could feel the muscles on his face stretch and it didn’t feel too good. He never realized it was so much work to just lift your lips. Life sure does change your perspective on things.
“Smile Ray! SAY CHEEEEESE !”
“Why do I have to say cheese? I don’t even like it.”
“Just say it already!”
“Now your picture’s all weird.”
“No one’s gonna look at my picture when I just got this brand new car!”
“Okay, okay, remember to wear your seat belts and all eyes on the road. No phones, no radio, no singing and absolutely no eating!”
“I know I know. Ugghh” Ray whined as he drove out of the driveway
“Remember to call!”
Ray couldn’t hear him. That was the last time he had heard from him when he went away for college. They were worried why he didn’t call back. When they called the office, they said he hadn’t even signed in. When Elijah had called him a thousand times and went up to Ray’s room, he saw his wife sitting there holding Ray’s baseball glove.
“He forgot to take this. Will you drive up and give it to him, please?” she said with a blank look.
That was it; he couldn’t sit and do nothing anymore. He took the glove and started to search for his keys, when the phone rang. It was the police. Elijah didn’t remember what happened after that. He could hear nothing but the sound of the glove brushing against his shirt. He never knew sound could be this prominent.
As Elijah stood up from the white wooden chair, so many memories flashed through his eyes. It felt so surreal. So vivid. He placed the glove on the mahogany wood, as they lowered the coffin into the deep dark hole. As he let go of the dirt in his fists, he gazed at how each grain fell slowly into the hole, while some stuck to the mud on his brown shoes.