“Can I tell you a secret?” I say. I’m sitting on the floor, back against the wall. One leg extended, one folded in. “You’re the only one I can trust. No one listens as good as you.” I pause.

“I need to tell someone that…”—I tap my knee. A steady rhythm that helps me breathe. “I need to tell you that I’m afraid. Terrified, even.” I sigh.

“I know I’m okay, but sometimes, I feel like… like Chicken Little, you know? Of course you do. You’ve seen that movie, what? Ten times? I feel like Chicken Little when he yells, ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling!’ and no one believes him. And it’s so lonely.”

I rub my forehead. “I’m so lonely. It’s like, there are all these people around me who love me, but I feel like there’s a wall between me and them. And it’s not that they’re not listening, it’s me who can’t hear them. I see their lips moving, but they sound like they have socks in their mouths. Is that what I sound like to you? You ever feel like that?”

I take a moment to look outside. It’s a sunny day. Not hot, but warm. A slight chill that sneaks in through the open window makes my neck feel good. “I want to reach out my hand and touch someone, but it’s heavy by my side. I can’t lift it. It’s so stupid.”

I close my eyes and sigh again. “No. No, it’s not. It’s not stupid, you hear me? It’s never dumb or weak to feel your emotions, to feel lost, to feel like fuc—freaking Chicken Little. We may both be dudes, but it’s okay to be a little sad.”

I turn toward the window. “The world’s a confusing place. It always will be. There’s so much good, a lot of it, but it’s not always easy to see it. It’s like, if you hit yourself on the edge of the table, you’re going to hurt. And it doesn’t matter that the rest of your body is okay, you’ll only be able to focus on that one place that hurts. That’s fine, but at some point, you need to remember that you’re actually okay.”

“Look at me,” I laugh. “Giving you advice when I’m hurting. Do think that makes me a hypocrite? I don’t think it does. Humans are complex—you’ll realize that later in life. We say things we don’t mean, feel things we don’t want to feel, do the opposite of what we say. It’s all very confusing.”

I pause for a moment. “What I’m saying is that right now, I’m questioning, well, everything. That happens sometimes. You just start questioning stuff like you’re Einstein or something. You go from, 'Why am I this way?' to 'Why are people so evil?' to 'Why do people want power?' to 'Why does money split families apart?' to 'Why would they do that to children?' And next thing you know, you’re crying because there are too many questions, and you don’t have an answer to any of them.”

“And you can’t—” I bring my hand up to my cheek to wipe my tears—“you can’t do stuff about everything. You can’t solve all of your problems plus the ones in the world.”

I calm down before I keep talking. “That’s not to say you can’t do anything at all, you understand me? We—you and me—we’re here to make the world a better place. And maybe your job will be to paint and make people feel things. Or maybe it'll be to write and change lives with words. Or maybe you’ll run for president and fix all this global warming stuff people keep talking about. I don’t know. But what I do know is that you just have to try your best.” I nod to myself.

“You’re going to fall down a lot. You’re going to end up like me, in this room, talking to someone about everything you feel. You’re going to feel like you’re not doing enough, like you’re not enough. Whether in school, or in your job, or in your family, or for the world.”

I laugh again. “Man, being human is hard. But you’re lucky you’re alive because life can be so beautiful, too. Like, you get to experience love and see the colors of the sky when the sun sets and cuddle dogs and laugh so hard that milk comes out of your nose.” I smile, remembering how many times I’ve done that before.

“And you get to do things you love like watch Chicken Little, and eat good food, and you get to go on rollercoasters and feel your stomach drop and God, so many things. And you have to remember all of that when life feels like poop. When you feel like poop.”

I unfold my leg. “Life’s an endless mess. You’ve got beauty and you’ve got ugly and you’ve got happiness and you’ve got pain. But I’m going to be here with you for all of it, okay? I’m going to try to teach you all I can, and we’re just gonna conquer the world, you and me. Our world. Whatever that means. And when you feel lonely like this, I want you to know that you can always come to me. I hope I can keep coming to you.”

“We’ve got to be here for each other, man. Not just you and me, but all of us. The whole world. You meet a stranger on the street, you give him a smile. You put your phone down and listen to people talk, got it? Be there with your family and never push them away. Whether they’re blood or not. Just try to be as good as you can—as long as you try to do that, you’ll be okay. You’ll still get hurt, but you’ll be okay. I promise.”

I get up and walk toward my nephew where he’s been sitting this whole time, patient as ever, playing with a stuffed animal. I pick him up and hug him close to my chest. “We’re both going to be okay, kid. I love you, alright?”

He doesn’t understand me, but I know he can feel my love. I hope everyone can feel my love.

August 20, 2020 23:21

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Paige Winters
23:20 Nov 19, 2020

This is a really nice story. I like how you used the dialogue to explain everything about how this guy feels about the world. It's harder to use lots and lots of dialogue to make a story but you did a great job of it. Good work.


Itxy Lopez
19:53 Dec 13, 2020

Thanks, Paige––I appreciate that!


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