idol season nine | week 37 | 475 words
Shibusa (Home Game)
Dark, orange streaks bleed through the sky as the sun goes down. The light fades, and blackness creeps in to take its place.
When the last whisper of color is finally gone, you open the door.
We go out into the night, feet following the stones that make up the path. It is always stranger and more mysterious here when it is dark, but you are young and unafraid. I trail after you, close enough to catch you—rescue you—if something should go wrong.
The moon begins to rise as you stroke leaf after leaf and examine each flower. I have planted new ones over the years, Chinese lanterns and fringy foliage to tempt the touch of your fingers, and white, blue, yellow and pink flowers to show a hint of true color despite the dampening effect of the gloom. You move from one plant to another, like a butterfly or fairy drawn to all the pretty things along the way.
Under the faint glow emanating from the full moon, the garden gleams with a rich, blue radiance. The shadows have eased away and the corners grown less dim. It is beautiful here, like a dream of reality. These nightly adventures are the only truth you've ever known.
We never planned this—never knew it was possible for a child to be so badly injured by the sun, or to be burned by the faintest bit of light. You live on a different schedule from other children, waking late in the afternoon and going outside to play only when it is dark—alone, always alone, unless I am with you. What if that remains the essence of your future?
What will we do when you are old enough to go to school, and how will you ever find love and friendship in the years ahead? The doctors have no real answers, only the analysis of your condition and a long list of all the things you must not do. If there is hope, it is too removed from the horizon for us to see.
I watch you run off through the grass, your pale skin and white-blonde hair gleaming in the muted light like some sort of ethereal vapor…
Like a ghost.
"Come on, Mama, let's go!" you call, eager to play in this half-seen world that is your kingdom. You are overflowing with delight for what you have, still too young to be heartbroken over what you do not.
You are wonderful and amazing, and I don't know how you bear the limitations that close you in.
Here in the perpetual darkness, you laugh and run like any other child. You see only beauty in all the strangeness that surrounds you.
With your joy in these simple moments, I am transported from my despair. Your unyielding happiness shines more brightly than the sun.
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