By Caroline Wolff

Every morning when I wake up and inch my trembling feet toward the floorboards, I fear I will fall through. I try to shake the pressing weight from my chest and shoulders; I almost convince myself in between deep breaths that today will be different. After finding the strength to stand, I make my way to the tiny bathroom adjoined to my bedroom, with its charming little rings of soap scum on the countertop and its torn and yellowed wallpaper from the 1960s, the floor screeching and faltering under my weight as I walk. As I prepare my toothbrush, I gaze blankly into the mirror and fixate my eyes on the bathtub behind me, with its tacky striped shower curtain. 

Suddenly, I am three years old again, and Mom is singing “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” with me. Her voice is soft and warm on my skin, wrapping me in comfort like a fleece blanket, as she scrubs me with foamy suds of vanilla sugar bubble-bath. For a split second, I believe that she is still here with me. That is until I glance back at her old, empty bedroom where I had just been sleeping, and remember that she is nowhere to be found. She’s gone. She’s been gone for almost a month but I’ve yet to admit it to myself. I don’t think I’ve even admitted to myself that she was sick, and had been for four years. 

The stairs sing a chorus as I walk down them, staying on my toes, a forced bounce in my step. I pass the front door, still covered in the same patchy, peeling, light green paint that greeted me each day as I came home from elementary school. The screen door hangs slightly open as always, its broken latch clicking back and forth as it swings in the dry Texas breeze. There is a stiff silence about the neighborhood at this hour, interrupted only by the rusted white window shutters moaning loudly, drowning out the subtle birdsong echoing from the oak trees. The gnarled hardwood floor scrapes my bare feet as I make my way to the kitchen. 

I press the little red button and the old coffee maker starts sputtering. Steam rises to the low ceiling, which is still laden with huge splotches of discoloration from decades of leaking pipes and rainstorms. When my coffee is done, I take it to the living room, with its grayish carpets, brittle from spills and accidents over the ages; dog pee, juice boxes, tempera paint from my childhood painting set.

The tall, white bookshelf is next to the sofa. Most mornings, I get lost in its contents, wedged tightly together and almost overflowing; yearbooks, photo albums, souvenir snow globes from family vacations. I always find my way back to my collection of classic novels from high school English class, where my boyfriend at the time—who was a year ahead of me and let me borrow his books when it was my turn to read them—had scrawled notes in the margins. The Catcher In The Rye was his favorite, but I was always partial to Of Mice And Men. 

His name was Miles. He had voluminous black hair that laid in curls on top of his forehead, bouncing in rhythm as he walked. He wore the same leather jacket to school every day, had calluses and oil stains on his hands from working in his dad’s auto shop, always smelled faintly of cigarette smoke and wintergreen bubblegum, and spoke in a deep, mellow voice that formed a natural harmony with my sunny soprano. We got married right after I graduated high school. 

Now, tonight, we’re ending things. For good. It’s been a long time coming, but still I’m filled with dread, a nervous tingle rising in my throat and settling in the tips of my fingers. Part of me still wants to hang on to what we had, but I’m trying to learn that it’s better this way. It’s better this way, even if I can’t feel it.

My gaze lingers in the corner of the room, next to the boxy television set, where the first acoustic guitar I ever owned is mounted on the wall. It’s painted pink and covered in blue and green star stickers, peeling around the edges. I haven’t taken it off the wall in years, and a thick layer of dust has made its home on the technicolor surface. My mom gave me this guitar on my eleventh birthday, the day my dad left. 

My dad and I once had a good relationship. We actually used to be joined at the hip. We had building block competitions and read storybooks and put on puppet shows behind the faded blue sofa. When I was six years old, I started holding regular talent shows in this room. I would mash random keys on my neon toy keyboard and belt out my off-key rendition of “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley, and my dad would clap, because that’s what fathers do. 

Somewhere between seven and eight, something shifted. I told him I wanted to get serious about music. I asked for voice lessons and real instruments.

“You’ll never work,” he told me. “You’ll have no money. Pop stars are one in a million.”

“Are you saying I’m not one in a million?” I would shout back. “Are you saying I’m not good enough? Do you not believe in me?”

He never gave me an answer, so in my adolescence, I spent most of my time upstairs in my bedroom, filling up songbooks and trying to prove him wrong. When I ventured downstairs, I ignored him and only talked to my mother, and my blatant favoritism morphed into late nights spent listening to the house echo with slamming doors and screaming. Sometimes glass broke. Sometimes my mom ran out the front door and down to the cul-de-sac, sobbing the whole way, and I prayed he wouldn’t follow her. I learned to fear the little things. I learned to flee when I heard him set the grocery bags down on the counter just a little bit too aggressively, to retreat into a world of noise-cancelling headphones and microwave dinners eaten alone in my bedroom. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to blame myself. Maybe our family would’ve been normal, maybe I wouldn’t be virtually parentless, if I had just let go of my defiant teen bullshit long enough to listen to my dad.

When my mom gave me my pink guitar, she said she knew that I would become a star one day. It now serves as a sad reminder that I failed her; that I am a twenty-six year old woman living in my childhood home that is falling down around me, writing songs that no one will ever listen to, clinging to the only time in my life that I was ever truly happy.

The loneliness that settles over the house is so thick that, on occasion, I forget that I am not alone. This house is not empty.

“Mama!” a little voice calls from upstairs.

“Coming, pumpkin!” I say back, making my way back up the creaking staircase.

“Hey, bumblebee, ready to rise and shine?” I soften my voice as I peek through the doorway to my son’s bedroom, which used to be my bedroom when I was growing up here. I had begun to redecorate it, painting over the pink walls with blue and swapping out the dollhouse for some toy trucks, but progress on that halted when mom died. My dainty white vanity, Backstreet Boys posters, and year-around strings of Christmas lights remain, but Andy doesn’t seem to mind at all.

“I’m ready, Mama!” he says, nodding enthusiastically.

I lift Andy out of his bed, help him get dressed, and bring him down the stairs. He plays with the blonde curls draped over my shoulders on the way down.

He reminds me of Miles. He has the same curly, floppy, black hair; the same carefree, melodic laugh; the same adventurous spirit. He’s only missing one thing: his long legs… Or any legs for that matter. 

We reach the bottom of the stairs and I gently lower him into his wheelchair. He wheels himself to the kitchen and pulls up next to the tiny round table where I give him some cereal, a banana, and some orange juice in a lime green plastic cup. As he eats at a slow pace, he busies himself with the zipper on his red jacket, moving it up and down mindlessly. I sit across the table eating a piece of toast with peanut butter.

Andy recently turned seven years old. He was born without legs and has nervous system irregularities which make his arms have spasms or lose tone from time to time, but he likes to always keep his hands busy. Most would say that he needs me, but the truth is I need him. 

While we’re eating, it’s mostly silent, and I take this time to think about tonight, how I don’t want this but I do. I’ve never hated Miles but I remember the resentment I once felt at his choice to end our marriage. It felt selfish. He told me that he couldn’t be a father to Andy; that he couldn’t make the sacrifices. It sounded like Andy was a chore to him. I couldn’t believe that he would give up on his own son like that. But with time, I realized that Miles has been thinking of Andy all along, and that it’s better to acknowledge your limits than try and fail when a child hangs in the balance. 

When he’s done eating, I take Andy to the sink and help him brush his teeth. I can tell by the way he eyes the toothbrush that he wants to do it himself. I want to let him, but he just doesn’t have the coordination yet. He has tried in the past, his hands fumbling around his mouth but not quite getting the job done.

Once his teeth are brushed, we leave to catch his bus for school. I wheel him down the rickety makeshift wooden ramp that my mom and I had built on the porch when I moved back in to take care of her. The wheels of his chair crackle against the bumpy asphalt road littered with orange and red leaves. The neighbor across the street is in her front yard with her three-year-old daughter, teaching her how to pump her legs to propel herself on her tree swing. I wave to both of them but they don’t wave back. I know that they see us though, because they’re staring at Andy with scathing eyes as if they haven’t seen him every day for years. 

The bus pulls up just as Andy and I arrive at the stop. The driver gets out, nods at me as if to say “good morning,” then rolls Andy onto the wheelchair lift in the back of the bus. It creeps up at an agonizingly-slow pace. I glance over to see the bus driver tapping her foot with growing impatience. Andy is smiling brightly at me, his crooked teeth glimmering and the golden, autumn morning sunshine reflecting off his green eyes. He does this every morning; he tries to convince me that he’s happy going to school. But I know he feels the hostility of the other kids on the bus as they roll their eyes over having to wait for him. I know he hears them whispering “crip” and “special ed” behind his back. I know he sees them stare at him as he passes by in the hallway, their eyes glued to the place where his legs should be. I know that he wants to run and jump and play with the other kids at P.E. and Recess, and he doesn’t understand why those abilities to just be a kid were stolen from him. He knows he isn’t seen as their equal but he pretends not to notice so I won’t feel like I’ve failed at doing the one thing a parent should do—keep their kid happy. 

Once Andy is on the bus, I walk back home and climb into my car—a black 1992 Honda Accord—which used to belong to my mom. Today, I’m scheduled for shifts at both of my jobs. I’ve been a waitress at Cherry’s Milkshake Bar for three years and I more recently took a second job at The Craft Cottage, a quaint little mom-and-pop store filled with arts and crafts supplies, more fabrics than anybody could ever need, and quirky, overly cheery seasonal holiday decorations. The store recently put out its Christmas displays. Next to the front entrance is a Christmas tree covered in fake snow and generic-looking red, green, and gold bulbs. A display of stockings of all sizes and colors is set up near the entrance, and as customers move further back into the store, they’ll find gingerbread house kits, plush reindeers, and corny wall signs with Christmas puns like “I love you from your head to your mistle-toe!” Right next to my register, a dancing animatronic Santa Claus sings “Jingle Bell Rock” every time someone walks past.

I like to say that I took this job because bi-monthly doctors’ appointments and impromptu hospital visits are expensive—and that’s partially true—but it’s also a good distraction from everything else happening in my life. This isn’t the life I ever envisioned for myself, but it’s the life I need to have, for mine and Andy’s sake.

During my shift, Nancy, the owner of the store who looks like she should’ve retired ten years ago, stops by my register and leans against the shopping bag receptacle with her hip, her arms crossed. She looks at my feet when she speaks to me.

“You know, Alyssa, you don’t have to do this,” she says, her voice rife with pity. “I understand that things are hard right now, and if you want to take some time off, that’s fine by me.”

She looks up for just long enough to give me a sad half-smile.

“I appreciate the concern,” I tell her. “But, yes, I do have to do this. And I want to. I’m fine.”

This is the fifth time we’ve had this conversation. I give her the same response every time but with each passing day, I’m more inclined to tell her to leave me alone; that she doesn’t “understand” anything; that she doesn’t know who I am or what I’m feeling and should stop pretending like she does. I can’t help but wonder if I truly come off as miserable as she thinks I am. All I know is I don’t need people feeling sorry for me.

A few hours into my shift, an old high school friend, Jennie, comes to my register. Her olive skin is glowing, her hair in tight, long waves rippling down her back. She is dressed in a royal blue pantsuit. I haven’t spoken to her in years but she seems to be working in the professional world. She’s in a rush, fumbling for her credit card, her eyebrows furrowed with concentration. 

“Hi, Alyssa, how have you been?” She asks, only half-interested in small talk but still trying to be polite and fill the silence as she digs in her purse.

“I’ve been… good. Yeah, good,” I reply. “You remember Andy? He’s in school now. Second grade.”

“Oh, yeah, I remember him,” Jennie mutters as she hands me her card and I put her items in a bag. “Poor kid.”

“I- I’m sorry, what?” 

“Um, yeah, sorry to cut this short but I’ve gotta get going,” she takes her card, picks up her bag, and heads for the front door. “Merry Christmas to both of you… Hope things get better.”

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t also hope that things would get better for us. I want Andy to be happy. I want him to be more to his peers than just the kid with no legs. I want to let go of Miles; of my grief; of everything that shouldn’t matter anymore but, for some reason, still does. I want to do what I love without the fear that I won’t be able to provide for Andy. I know Jennie and Nancy and everyone else has innocent intentions, but there’s something about their words that seem patronizing, as if to say, “I hope your life becomes less pathetic and ends up more like mine.”


At 3:00 PM, I clock out and leave for my shift at Cherry’s. Evening shifts at Cherry’s have always been my favorite. Cherry’s is modeled after a 1950s restaurant, with a light blue and pink color palette, checkerboard floors, and a jukebox in the corner. The waitresses wear roller skates and little pink and black uniforms with bouncy skirts and a matching tiny, pink hat. The menus all have a pink Cadillac on the cover, and there are two huge floor-to-ceiling vanilla ice cream cone statues on either side of the front counter. The storefront, illuminated by the old-fashioned “We’re Open!” sign, is made entirely of windows, revealing the open sky splashed with neon billboards and street lamps. Today, I use it to distract myself from the fact that I will officially be single in less than five hours.  

A highway stretches across the clear expanse of glass. Cars and trucks and motorcycles zoom by, their headlights glowing against the stretching shadows of dusk. I find the view enticing—the contrast between dark and light; the way the sky seems to go on forever; and the way that every single person in those cars and trucks and motorcycles is infinitely complicated, each with dreams and fears and regrets and people they love so much that they would give up their own lives for them. But to me, they’re nothing more than a streak of light on an open road, insignificant and impermanent. I’m captivated by the way they are all quickly moving forward with intention, with destination, while I’m suffocated by stagnation.

If I stare long enough, I find myself drifting even further from reality. I am seventeen again, dressed in a denim jacket and shorts and a neon pink tank top. My hair is tied back into a too-tight ponytail whipping wildly in the breeze. Miles is with me, driving his motorcycle while I sit behind him, my arms wrapped around his shoulders for leverage. We are going fast, breaking rules for no reason like teenagers do. 

Cherry’s was our favorite place to go for dates in high school. On my favorite date, we rode here, sat on the rotating blue barstools, and ordered strawberry milkshakes. We laughed and sang along to the jukebox as it played our favorite song, “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. We almost got matching tattoos that night, and in hindsight, I’m glad that we didn’t because that would be yet another thing I’d fail to part with. 

“Hey, Alyssa,” the restaurant owner, Wendy, snaps. “I don’t pay you to fucking stand around and daydream! The couple that was just in here spilled a shake over there. Get on it.”

Wendy has been the owner of Cherry’s ever since Miles and I came here for dates. She grew to hate us when we were customers here, and I think the only reason she hired me was for the satisfaction of bossing me around. Wordlessly, I grab a rag and start mopping up the puddle of chocolate and whipped cream. 

“Let me guess,” Wendy coos mockingly, “You were, once again, thinking about Miles… that degenerate. Thought you were divorcing him. What’s your deal?”

“Not your business, Wendy.”

“I always had a feeling you’d peak in high school,” she shakes her head and chuckles, walking through the red door that leads to the back of the building.

My face is red-hot, but at least Wendy’s never felt the need to treat me like I’m fragile like everyone else. I have to respect that about her.

Wendy leaves a few minutes before closing time and orders me to close up the shop. I unplug the “We’re Open!” sign and the jukebox. I mop the floors and polish the tables and countertop. I put all the glasses and cups and spoons, clean and sparkling, in the kitchen where they belong. 

Before I actually close for the night, I snatch a brown napkin from the napkin dispenser and, for just a few minutes, I take advantage of my first moments of solitude since sunrise. I sit down on one of the blue barstools on the other side of the counter, take the pen from my uniform pocket, and start to write on the napkin. At this point, I don’t know if I’m writing lines of poetry or song lyrics; I just need to be creative before the day’s end.

She never complained, never stole, never lied,

Never hurt a single soul ‘til the day that she died.

Yet I’m still here, useless, scared, my conscience far from pure,

It should’ve been me and not her.

He is smart, he is kind, he is funny, filled with glee,

He could melt a thousand hearts with all that positivity.

But what if the world breaks him? What if they box him in?

It should’ve been me and not him.

I feel my cell phone vibrating against my hip as I’m walking to the front door. When I take it out of my pocket, the screen glows blue with white letters spelling out Miles. The nervous tingle comes back to my fingertips and I can only stand and stare. 

Let it ring. Just let it ring.

It rings twice, then I answer it at the last second.

“Hey,” I say into the phone, trying to sound calm and collected. 

You’re fine. Tonight’s no big deal. This doesn’t faze you. Relax.

“Hi, Ally,” he says. His voice is still smooth like silk sheets. My heart flutters in my chest. “Just checking to make sure tonight at nine still works.”

No, it doesn’t. Nothing works. I don’t wanna do this.

“Yeah, that’s fine. I’m picking up Andy right now so I might be a bit late, but you can start heading that way.”

I walk back to the counter and sit down on one of the blue barstools again.

“Okay, I will. See you then.” I can tell by the way his intonation rises that he is smiling just a little bit on the other end.

Say “I love you”.

“Yeah, see you.”

For the last time, maybe.

“Bye, Ally.”

“Bye,” I say hoarsely, just above a whisper, before pressing “End Call.”

I lock the doors on my way out, then trade the restaurant key for my car keys and climb into the driver’s seat.


As I am driving to Andy’s school to pick him up from after-school care, a heaviness burdens my chest. It becomes hard to move, hard to breathe. My mind starts to rush, then go blank. I pull into a tall parking garage near one of Andy’s doctors’ offices, driving up a few floors to where it is less crowded. 

I take a few seconds to think, to feel everything and all at once. My knuckles go white as I grip the steering wheel with all of the force in my body. Tears stream down my cheeks and, as they dry, strands of my hair stick to my face. 

What am I doing here? What’s the point?

I’m not cut out for this.

I’m just some stupid girl still stuck in high school.

Andy deserves better than this.

My hands tremble now as I step out of my car. I lift one of the windshield wipers and put the brown napkin bearing my handwriting underneath it, its corners flapping furiously in the wind. Then, almost involuntarily, I find myself stepping forward, toward the high concrete ledge in front of the space where my car is parked. 

There is a metal rail in between me and the ledge. I crouch down, go underneath it, then stand on the ledge with the rail behind me. The ledge is only wide enough to support the soles of my feet, my toes hovering off the edge. I grip the rail for dear life, my wrists cramping, and lift one foot off the ledge, looking down. The cars and trucks and motorcycles are still zooming by with the same unyielding intention, but now they are below my feet, even smaller and more insignificant from up here. 

Sweat coating my palms threatens to make me lose my grip. I swallow a giant lump in my throat and look down once more. 

I want it all to stop.

I want to fall and, this time, I won’t be afraid.

I squeeze my eyes shut as tight as I can. My eyelashes are dripping wet.

I lean forward and, one by one, lift my fingers off the rail as I bite down hard on my bottom lip.

It’ll be better this way.

Just go.

“Poor kid.”

“What’s your deal?”

“I always had a feeling you’d peak in high school.”

One hand is completely off the rail now.

I’m suspended in place halfway off the ledge when I feel a presence that isn’t my own. It’s mom.

It feels like she is next to me; I can feel a small weight on my shoulder like her hand is resting there. Her touch is tender, almost pleading. 

The wind picks up, blowing in my direction, as if the gusts are her arms pushing me back to safety, as if to say, “Not yet. You still have a job to do, the most important one of all.” 

My shoulder blades press up against the metal rail behind me, sending a pain up into my neck. Looking up to the sky, I let out an audible half-scream, half-sob. 

I take a few more terrified breaths before stepping back into the garage, taking my napkin off the windshield, and getting back into my car. My breathing is still uneven and unsteady for a few minutes as I stare at the ledge where I was just standing. Then, I turn the key, back out of the parking spot, and drive away without looking back.


When Andy wheels out of the elementary school front door, he is beaming and full of energy. I help him into the backseat of the car. As I am buckling his seatbelt, he throws his arms around me and squeezes me as tight as he can.

“Mama, it’s the weekend!” he cheers. “Are you excited?”

“I am, bumblebee,” I nuzzle his cheek with mine, trying not to tear up again.

“Can we…” he fiddles with his zipper again. “Can we go on a ride in the red wagon tomorrow? I loved when you and Daddy would take me on rides. It was fun.”

“Of course, I would love to.”

His face lights up like I have never seen it light up before. That face is enough to make me want to live forever, no matter how painful it gets.


Miles is already in the driveway when we pull in.

“Daddy’s here!” Andy shouts, clapping his hands. “I haven’t seen Daddy in months!”

“I know, bumblebee, neither have I. Now, let’s get you out of there.”

Miles comes over to the side of the car and, after greeting him, I hand him Andy’s wheelchair. He holds it steady on the driveway while I lift Andy out of the car and set him down in it.

“Hi, Daddy!” Andy says, smiling and waving at Miles.

Miles kneels down to be eye level with Andy.

“Hi, son,” he waves back before giving him a hug. “Good to see you again. It’s been a while, huh?”

We all go inside, together as a family for the first time in what feels like forever. Andy goes ahead of us, wheeling up his ramp and making his way to the kitchen table. Miles and I follow him walking shoulder to shoulder.

Miles looks as if he hasn’t aged a day since high school. His hair is styled the exact same way. A white packet of Marlboros is barely peeking out of his shirt pocket and he is chewing gum as we walk. He’s carrying a beige book bag and, judging by his scrunched eyebrows as he repeatedly pulls it back up onto his shoulder, it’s almost too heavy for him.

When we sit down at the table to catch up, he tells me that he finally decided to go to college, now that he has the freedom to. He’s lugging around thick textbooks filled with complicated graphs and diagrams, which is apparently pretty standard for engineering majors. I tell him that his major suits him; he always had such a talent for fixing things, big and small, tangible and not.

Eventually, after some pleasant but stiff conversation, Miles takes a dark blue folder out of his bag and opens it. He puts two pieces of paper and two black pens on the table.

We each grab a pen and paper. My wrist is locked and my breath catches in my throat as I glance up at Miles. He hasn’t signed his either. He’s just looking down, eyes glued to the dotted line at the bottom of the page.

With a shaky sigh, I allow my pen to glide across the paper. Alyssa Brooks. 

He’s done when I look up. We trade papers and do it again.

When it’s all done, he looks up at me and then Andy and presses his lips together. There is a thick silence only broken by the sound of Miles picking up both of the papers and slipping them back into the folder. His chair screeches against the worn floor as he stands up and pushes it in.

Andy is the first to speak. Even he is frowning. “Will I see you again soon, Daddy?”

“Of course,” Miles says with a smile, the first genuine one I’ve seen from him all evening. “I would like that.”

Andy gives Miles a small grin and nods.

Miles turns his head to look at me.

Don’t let this be awkward. Say something.

“I-I’d like to still see you, too,” I stumble. “If that’s okay.”

“More than okay,” Miles playfully nudges my shoulder, just like he always did when we were younger.

Silence again. He’s about to turn away.

“I love you.”

His eyes darken. He stands still.

No. No. No. What have I done?

Suddenly, his arms are wrapped around me. I embrace him back. “I love you both. And this isn’t an end, okay? I promise. It’s just a change, and change is good, right?”

We both let go. I grab his hand and squeeze it. “Yeah… Yeah, it is.”

Andy and I accompany him to the porch and watch him drive away.


When we get back inside, Andy has the stars in his eyes again.

“Daddy said I could come visit!”

“Yes, I know it’s exciting, bumblebee,” I say. “But we’d better get ready for bed. We have a big day ahead of us.”

He splashes the bathtub water with his hands as I scrub him with foamy suds of cherry blossom bubble-bath. I help him get changed into his pajamas; put him into bed; give him a kiss on the forehead; and hand him his favorite teddy, Patches.

“Goodnight, bumblebee,” I say as I inch the door closed. “See you in the morning.”

I flip his light off, then walk to my bedroom and flip mine on.

Plopping down and sitting cross-legged on the foot of the bed, I grab my songbook and my napkin from earlier in the day. I dig around in my pockets for my pen and unclick it to write one final verse:

She is my guide,

He is my purpose,

They are the ones that make everything worth it.

And even when I feel like I can’t keep going,

I’m gonna keep going for them.

I take the napkin and wedge it into the spine of the book like a bookmark before closing the book and sliding it into the drawer of the bedside table. A few minutes later, I climb into bed, throwing mom’s off-white bed sheets over myself and letting them mold around my body slowly, embracing my figure. There’s still a heaviness in my chest, a burden to my breathing, but regardless I drift off to sleep, imagining what tomorrow will bring.


It is Saturday morning. The air is crisp, chilling, and textured. Andy is sitting in his little red wagon, wrapped up in a bright blue scarf and purple mittens, and I’m running as fast as I can up and down the street in front of our house, pulling him along, looking over my shoulder on occasion to see his smile. The roads are bumpy and each time we go over an uneven spot that makes the wagon jump into the air, I can hear Andy let out a shriek-like giggle, a type of joy that cannot be contained. He loves to go fast, since life doesn’t allow him to very often. I’m beaming from ear to ear. The neighbor and her daughter are out in their front yard again, probably staring as usual, but I can’t be bothered to pay any mind to them.

It’s moments like these that make me forget to mourn the Disneyland trips and elaborate birthday parties; the things that abled kids and their parents take for granted.

Today is the start of a new set of memories, memories just between me and my son, and for the first time in years, I am not three or eight or seventeen. I am twenty-six. I am here and now. I am alive.

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