The Kid Can Float
If there was an abundance of misery in the world, there was also sufficient joy, yes - as long as one knew where to look for it. - Rohinton Mistry
At the park last Friday, on his 8th birthday, me and Arle watch her son/ my stepson Piper play with some kids his age over by the swings. They size each other up like only kids do/ pressing their tongue to the cold flagpole of living to see if there is threat there. To see if this could work. It’s dicey, kids and their trust. Death wants to rush in, of course, but so do some other things too and some of them are more complicated than Death, with her forever darkness and your worries are finally over and all that. I’m talking weird kid characters that come out of of nowhere and tattoo small fragile people with daggers and skulls. It’s the damage done by just being alive, you know? And it comes on hard and fast when you are in your youth/ when you are shy but hungry/ when you long for attention but want to destroy all competition.
So it’s like at the park, I mean, sure, a kid could fly off a swing and bash their head on a rock and die instantly. Or they could be attacked by 50 yellow jackets over by the old shady picnic pavilion and have a terrible allergic reaction and croak right there. Or, and this is WAY more likely, these kids/ my kids/ your kids/ your grandkids/ whatever/ they could be minding their own fucking business eating wood chips and picking their boogers and flashing their asses at each other over at the merry-go-round/ laughing/ smiling/ interacting with other kids they have never even seen before in this lifetime when some broken, hopeless bastard climbs out of their pickup truck and starts popping off shots from that well-oiled American beauty: an AR-15.
I don’t know the rhythm or the cadence or the pattern, I guess. It varies. The shooter decides. The finger, the light touch. The slow squeeze, Louise.
But we block that one out because what can we do with that? With Death, I mean. Nothing. You can stay home, maybe. Keep the kids in the yard. Keep them locked away. But you know… It’s not that easy, is it?
So we take Piper to the park on his birthday and he’s over there talking up a blue streak to a couple of sisters, it seems, their Mom hanging on a bench alone, paying attention but also not, I figure. We zone out a little at the park. We turn our backs on the traffic out on the road, on the people over at the farmer’s market selling sunflowers and crates of peaches and homemade whoopie pies and stuff. And that’s when A-Punch-in-the-Neck and I-Shit-On-Your-Feelings and Fat-Kid-Sad and all those kinds of characters always show up. And the kids, they just stand over there in it. Take it as it comes. Cry or don’t. Slap a motherfucker or don’t. It’s random, isn’t it, this life of ours?