They Didn't See

No one saw him when he slipped out of the house. Good. He wanted it that way. He didn't want the questions. Questions demanded answers and there were no answers tonight. Nothing that would satisfy them, at least.

No one saw him when he walked across the park like a ghost, with his hands in the pockets of his faded denim jacket and his head tucked down against his chest. If anyone had seen him, they would have noticed how he kept his gaze on his feet, as though if he looked away he might stumble and fall. But no one saw that.

No one saw him sit on the swing set and gaze at the half-moon hidden behind the gray clouds. No one saw him smile. No one. He was completely alone in the night and without fear.

At night, the world slept. There weren't people pressing down on him to get his papers turned in on time or make sure his sisters got to bed at a reasonable hour. When the stars came out, he didn't have to walk the dog, or finish his paper route, or meet friends at the park. No, in the night he could walk that park without anyone looking for him.

Nighttime meant freedom. Freedom from their pressure to be something he couldn't.

Everything felt so peaceful with all the lights out in the houses. The cars had cooled off many hours ago and the children had stopped playing in the neighborhood streets. He could see for what felt like miles in the velvety darkness. With only a hazy moon to guide him, he still felt as though he could see every leaf with a new clarity. Even his ears were washed of the daylight bustle. He could focus on the wind as it passed, or the animals in the nearby brush as they scurried beneath the leaves of autumns past, or the far off sound of the freight trains as they clacked along the tracks. In the daytime, the train made him nervous, but at night when everything seemed so natural the trains were gentle giants merely passing through his perfect evening.

He stepped away from the swing and climbed to the top of the twisted covered slide. At the entrance, he sat for many long, calm minutes. He laughed and soaked in the sound of his laughter as it echoed back to him from the plastic tube.

Then he nodded and took a deep, slow breath. He knew the time had come. That perfect moment.

All around him, the world lay sleeping peacefully. He took comfort that in the night he heard no one yell. No one fought. No one cried. In the darkness, no one moved to find him, grab him, touch him, hurt him.

Yes, he thought, this is how I want to remember it.

No one saw him when he had left his house and now, as he sat at the entrance of the covered slide, no one saw him put the barrel of his father's pistol firmly into his mouth. No one saw him pull the trigger; no one saw the back of his head explode in a spray of blood and bone to paint the wooden walkway behind him. No one saw how calm he had been or how peaceful he looked to have the end so near.

With the sunlight, the calm the night tucked over the world faded. The voices rose and the eyes wandered. They saw him then.