Sunday, December 29, 2013

Michael (Preview)

On the night of my fourteenth birthday, brushing my teeth before bed, I heard a tapping on the window. I looked at my shirtless reflection in the mirror and then at the window behind me, and I saw Michael’s face pressed against the glass, grinning.

“Hey,” he said, his voice muffled by the insulated window panes. “Open up.”

I tried to ignore him, but he kept tapping, and I bet he was cold; he never wore anything but underwear. Eventually, I went to the window and slid the sash up. He came through effortlessly, dropping down onto the floor and standing up quickly.

“Took you long enough,” he said quietly. Through the open window I could hear the roar of the freeway in the distance, and I looked at him in the quiet bathroom. It had been a long time since I’d last seen him. The last time had been right after Mom told me he wasn’t real, and she still would have told me that.

“How old are you now?” I asked him.

“How old are you?” He asked me in return, dew dripping down his bare chest.

 “I asked you first.”

He shrugged and smiled again, and I remember all the times we had run around town at night in our underwear, breaking store windows and heaving soda bottles at parked cars, alarms piercing the quiet and announcing our departure as we scurried half-naked into the shadows between buildings.

“Do you believe I’m real yet?” He wanted to know, and he waited for my answer.

Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t know. The only thing I actually knew, I realized as we both stood there in our underwear, was that I had missed him. Years had passed. We had both gotten taller, filling out, growing hair in all the places we were supposed to around this age.

Finally, I opened my mouth to speak. “No,” I told him, and that one simple word struck him so that his smile faded completely, leaving only the face of a boy I knew years ago, now grown old beneath a teenaged face. He came over to where I was and looked in the mirror with me, and we were visions of youthful manhood reflected side by side. We could have been brothers.

He looked over at me, his hair still wet from the night air outside. “Maybe I don’t believe you’re real,” he said to me, and he looked in the mirror again.

“I am,” I told him. His reflected eyes grew colder, and there were the beginnings of tears in them. He blinked them away and sniffed.

“So am I,” he said finally.

“Mom says you aren’t.”

Without warning, he punched the mirror, his fist sailing into the glass hard and sending mirror shards everywhere, slamming the toothpaste and deodorant and rubbing alcohol beyond it into the wall.

He looked at me, and my heart was pounding in my chest. “Fine,” he said, and he went back out the window, leaving a trail of red drops across the tile floor in his wake. I stood there breathing hard after he left, my chest heaving, and I heard Mom running up the stairs. She burst into the room, looked at the smashed mirror, looked at me, and her eyes went wide.

“What on earth happened in here?” She asked.

I looked down at my right hand, bleeding on the tile floor with a shard of silvery glass stuck in it. The trail of red now led from the sink to where I stood, rather than to the window. “I don’t know,” I told her.

LIKE THIS PREVIEW? Want the whole story? Download it for a dollar at Smashwords or Barnes & Noble. Make sure you rate and review the story where you download it. I love hearing from people who have read my work.

Remember to watch for Anthology Volume One when it hits online stores in ebook and print formats in March 2014.

No comments:

Post a Comment