He cradled the boy in his arms, feeling the softness of his cheeks as they listened to the band rehearse. Any son of mine, he thought, had better learn to appreciate jazz. And bluegrass. And Chopin. And good music in general. He turned the boy around to face him a moment, their noses touching as he regarded his father seriously. Who cares what he likes.

He deposited the boy in his grandfather's lap and walked across to the ladder where she was hanging decorations. She smiled down at him as he climbed up each step until they were face-to-face. Her arms snaked around his neck as her eyes, green as an ocean, locked onto his.

"I love you," she said.

He opened his eyes a squint. It had gotten dark. He fumbled for his phone on the nightstand next to him to check the time, then rolled over and closed his eyes again. But hers were gone.

waiting for my real life to begin.

He once heard it said that every plan was a tiny prayer to Father Time.

Maybe that's why he didn't make plans. He and Father Time were not really on speaking terms. He preferred to think of the future only as much as the present required him to. It made the connections he didn't form, the friends he allowed himself to lose, the life he saw others living but that he could not find himself, all seem easier to bear. If he made no grand design for the next month or year or decade, then no matter what happened, he would always be surprised. Pleased. Content.

The truth was, he had no concept of the future. Perhaps he lacked the mental acuity to envision it. He could not conceive of any existence other than the one in which he presently found himself. To pretend otherwise was silly, fruitless, puerile.

His possessions, however, told another story. Stacks upon stacks of comic books, their covers creased and worn with repeated use and travel. Novels of brave deeds and biographies of braver ones, of heroes and villains and those that refused to join either camp. Stories of far away lands and dangers both real and imagined. They draped the walls of his room in wonder.

Yet as he read, he never pictured himself in the places of the characters. He had no part in such adventures; he was an observer, not a participant, not even in imagination. The journey of his life, he posited, must surely be better than the ones of which he read. Because it would belong to him.

And any minute now, his ship was coming in.

this is all yours for the taking.

you once wrote about how you use crutches.

Not, like, metal things
that help you walk.
I'm talking about


the things you point to when things go badly.
or even when they don't.

you have this idea
that you could fix everything
if you wanted to
which makes it easy not to bother.

you cling to that
you wrap yourself in your shortcomings
so that if you fail
you know why
and how.

it makes you feel like
you can control something
even if it's something bad.

but I've got news for you.

you can't fix everything.

you will fall.

you will not be better than everyone else.

but you gotta try.