The Boy Plays Alone

The boy plays alone in his room. He paces back and forth - the footsteps are deadened by the thick shag carpeting in his room and the door is closed, but he can be heard if you listen closely. Sometimes it stops. If it is for longer than ten minutes, then he has stopped to read. He often reads outside of his room though: on the couch or at the kitchen table. He doesn’t read so much as devours the texts, so perhaps the kitchen table is more fitting.

The boy has always written. Short scraps of stories are accompanied by illustrations and forgotten projects filled with orcs or exploring real life catastrophes in the only way that is comprehensible to him. The books he devours fuel the words he vomits onto the page. They spill across the paper and reek of his own bodily processes. It is distinctly his own style. His own creation. It isn’t putrid; it’s a wonder that he has so thoroughly processed what he has eaten and made it his own. Bits of Tolkien and Rowling swim about the page amongst chunks of Gaiman and Hawthorne and Kerouac and Vonnegut and Steinbeck, or that’s what they might be. The texture is different and the final product unrecognizable.

Still the boy plays alone in his room. The page only has so much room, but as he paces the floor, he can create whole worlds in an instance. He doesn’t have patience for his fingers as they fumble across the keys.

A knock on the door or a call from the kitchen bring him back to Latrobe. A block in Chicago that was built by someone else and leaves little room for new creations. Still, his parents made it their own with a barn-red house that was their own creation. They are practical people, but the vibrancy of their home’s siding hints at where the boys pacing came from. The boy’s mother wrote on July 8, of 1996: “I love all 2 ½ years of him – I will savor this quiet moment with him – his saucer eyes watching Barney – confident that they are singing only to him – I wish him a lifetime of confidence.”

The boy also knows that the authors wrote for him alone. He continues to pace and build worlds in his mind. Those worlds wait to be brought to the little girls and boys who know too that they were made for them alone. He wishes them a lifetime of confidence.