Sorry for the boring title, but I don't have one yet for what I'm about to share with you. If I haven't mentioned it elsewhere, I'm an Honors senior at Northern Kentucky University, and we have a literary magazine which has actually just been renamed to Loch Norse Magazine from NKU Expressed. They are having an event coming up on a Friday, an "open mic" of sorts for people to come read first drafts of new work or work that has yet to be workshopped in a conventional classroom setting. While I have other things I could be working on, my mind has been on this event, and because of that I spent the whole morning writing a creative nonfiction piece to read there (and hopefully get published!!!). I hope you enjoy it. :) This is the first creative endeavor I've posted on here...SAVOR IT!!! xD
I watch in silence as he slumbers from the spot he made for me on top of his shelves. Its high vantage point offers me a good view of his dreaming below, of his covers cresting with each respiration, but tonight those cycles have come with quivers and shivering that put his other uneasy nights to shame. He slowly emerges from underneath drenched sheets to answer the call of his clock, glistening with sweat but shaking feverishly. He struggles to stand on aching hips, knees, and ankles. He seems to drag himself out to take refuge in the bathroom, a specter of the young man I'm accustomed to seeing. Today is sure to grind along with his pace, but I'll help see him through it.
On his good days he's vibrant, even if my presence or his taste in clothes contradicts it. He has color in his face, shine to his eyes, and a strong smile that lifts and defines his cheeks. He cruises with the grace of a ship on the ocean, wind fully in his sails, swaying with a swagger that is undeniably his as he keeps time with the beat of "Billie Jean" ringing through his earphones into his soul. I can almost feel his mind at work as he takes in lecture, or when he's scribbling down an idea to write about later. We glide along to greet his friends, which he does by giving me a squeeze and a tilt. I shake as he doubles over in laughter, hiding his face until his composure returns. I recline as he relishes the words of the day's anecdotes, and vibrate with the resonance of his voice as he offers encouragement or advice. He is on, he is in step, he is alive.
On his bad days he's pallid, in perfect coordination with the neutral color of his clothes. His eyes lose their luster and cease to glow from beneath me. His lips tremble in their efforts to stretch into a smile, too weak to lift his cheeks and often choosing instead to sag on his chin. To most observers, his cheeks would be nonexistent, further emphasizing the slender bones that comprise his face. He drags as if his keel is in shallow water scraping the rocky bottom, listless, teetering with a muted grimace as he struggles to find solace in the whispers of Aaliyah's silky voice. I feel heat radiating off his scalp and sweating his hair, not because of brain activity but because it seems to cook; I am the lid on the pot it's boiling in. He hides himself underneath me, and I shield him from attention he might get. He is nearly spent when he greets his friends, and I feel a sudden updraft as he falls from under me into a chair. I tremble as he giggles at the jokes of the day, a much fainter feeling than the quake I know him to produce. I sit recumbent as he reassures his friends that he's alright, pleading that the conversation take its normal course. Once again behind closed doors, he takes me off to cry. Superman can't be seen weeping in his cape and costume. He is off, he is fragmenting, he is dying.
He emerges from the bathroom, face dripping with remnants of warm water. He slowly stoops to pull on his pants, his fingers fumbling as he buckles his belt. He plants his feet firmly in his boots, slips into his shirt and sighs. After a moment, his eyes rise to meet me. He reaches up for me and holds me against his chest, his eyes closing as his chest contracts in another sigh. I count ten strong, deliberate heartbeats before he finally musters the strength to bring me to repose on his head, his hand brushing along me as it falls back to his side. We turn and stoop for his bag, which he brings to hang upon his shoulder with the emission of a faint grunt. As we exit his room, he uncharacteristically turns to reenter the bathroom, bringing us before the mirror. He regards me as I sit on his head, mumbling under his breath about how no one seems to know him without me. He lets out a giggle and his lips stretch with ease into a smile. His eyes shimmer through my shade. Perhaps this will be a good day after all?