The boy is eight when his mother dies. Her death floods him with a grief he’s far too young to comprehend. He vows never to cry, lest he look weak.
Left to fester, his grief becomes shame—a shame that infects everything.
He feels unworthy, undeserving of love.
Later, his brain’s learned response to trauma of any kind will be shame.
In high school, he will do poorly in Algebra – Shame.
In college, he will self medicate – Shame.
One day he’ll lose his job – Shame.
Divorce – Shame.
He will point a finger always at himself, never at God.
By Ray Sharp
He was stopped at the lift bridge, waiting for the ship to pass through, right foot on concrete, left foot cocked on the pedal, just before the crossing barrier, wondering if it was red stripes on white, or white on red, like zebras. Familiar cry of gulls on the morning breeze, his favorite sound, the language of flight. They called to the blue boat named Kiyi, like the little deepwater chubs of Lake Superior. To swim or to fly, always a hard choice, but in the end it’s got to be fly. Up goes the arm, ding-ding-ding.
For the next hour I am just me.
I sip coffee and watch the people.
A young man hooks my gaze. He is writing. You don’t often see that these days.
He is young but … attractive. I wonder if he would glance at me and see past the shell of motherhood. We would talk of art and of writing and of how it could never work. Then have a delicious affair.
He looks up. I quickly look away and think of groceries.
As I leave I catch the eyes of an elderly man. He averts his gaze. He looks uncomfortable.
It didn’t matter how fast I pedaled my bike, Peter kept up. His front tire nudged my rear tire like he was trying to make me fall. I was scared to look back. Terrified of what would happen.
My legs burned as we raced to the gate to exit the park. His shadow inched closer to mine. I pedaled harder. Faster. I wish he would give up on this game and chase someone else to the other side.
I crossed the gate first and struck up the nerve to turn – Peter vanished like the legend said he would.
John took the gun and put it into his mouth, but couldn’t pull the trigger.