art by Junior McLean
by Leah Thomas
Now that they have come for me, banging on the trapdoor above us, there are many things I want to tell you, Son.
I want to tell you that I loved you, regardless of what I am. You should know that despite all you may learn in school, or from books, or from other children, I was capable of that. I may not have a heart, or a brain. But if I excelled at anything human, it was loving you.
I want to tell you to stop picking your nose--not because it is bad for you, but because it is unbecoming, and because your mother winces terribly whenever you do it. Her face has so many wrinkles already; it is not as polished and timeless as mine, or as young and carefree as yours. You should do all that's in your power to prevent any more unhappy lines from marring it.
That your face will earn its first creases today when they burst into our hideaway moments from now--this is a tragedy.
I want to tell you that you are far too serious for your age, and that you should be young for as long as possible. Yesterday when I tucked you into your cot you wanted to be an accountant when you grow up. Today, before they knocked at the trapdoor, you put your fork down and declared that you would study Packaging.
Consider, Son, being an astronaut, or a zookeeper, or perhaps even an alchemist like your mother. Such dreams will not always be impossible for you to achieve, especially once I am gone. Consider all that your mother accomplished when she recreated her dreams.
In this body, I have never dreamed, because I do not sleep. But I am made of dreams, of hopes, of the thoughts of that other man who I cannot quite be, despite the words engraved inside my hollow skull that beg me to be.
I want to tell you to dream in my absence.