After School Special

kids, boys, brothers, sons, park, playground, school

The wind was thick through his thinning hair, and he stood there against the force of growling gales and breezes blown like long, lost kisses. The leaves brushed upon his face, each a postcard from a tree slowly falling, and what they lacked in script they wore in frail, small lines that the light shone through. Their message was simple enough, and he had read it all before: Today is all we have, and the promise of tomorrow is surprisingly fickle.

The past is full of nothing but time.

A bell rang in the distance, and its echo was soon to follow. The sound of children laughing carried through the sky, lifting kites, filling lungs, and bringing smiles to all but one. His smile had already existed, and he strained to unwind the voices from the others and find those that he knew best—those he loved most of all.

One was quickly running, shouting a language of noise and nonsense that only he could comprehend. The man filtered it with context, the lens of happiness through which his son serenaded society, blind to all but glory, and they found each other on a bit of sidewalk grown worn and weary beneath the weight of backpacks and too many mornings. The boy greeted his father with something close to words, and they walked together to where the brother might be.

They found him spinning in the sunshine, a group of friends flying loose by his side, their faces covered in juice stains and joy. His greeting came in the way of hugs and chatter, recaps of every moment that his father had had to miss, and color commentary long tinted with hindsight. He took his brother with one hand and his father with the other, and he pulled them forever forward toward a big, green park and the play it badly needed.

The afternoon danced as afternoons do, with skips and dips, and a bit of soft-shoe. The boys ran to the horizon, told it a secret or two, and then they ran away again, somewhat wiser, yet more innocent, too.

The man stood in the spot that he always did, where the warmth of the day met the shade of the tree, and he watched his boys before him, laughing and floating like so many leaves—their message was simple, and it was everywhere.

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