The sharp, frigid currents of wind whipped across his face, forcing him to retreat further into the warmth of his black jacket. Leaves mirroring the varying colors of fire crunched underneath his feet, providing the only sound beside the soft breath from his lips. Above the canopy of the oak and pine trees laid the open sky the color of a blue ink pen. He ducked under splayed branches and sidestepped upturned roots and thick bushes.
Although his environment radiated calming peace, his mind absorbed anything but.
Even now, his blood boiled with anger and his hands clenched into fists, aching to release the accumulation of pent-up anger held there for so long—the anger that escaped yesterday afternoon.
“Are you even listening to me?” His mom had stomped over to him and yanked the headphones out of his ears.
His grey eyes narrowed. “Mom, I wasn’t even listening to a song!” He attempted to grab them back, but she pulled them out of his reach. She placed both fists on her hips. Similar to her son, her sapphire eyes narrowed and her pink lips pinched together in a firm line. The headphones dangled between her slender fingers.
“Then why didn’t you answer me?” She continued to glare at him, her cheeks beginning to take on a dark red hue.
“You’ve asked me the same question for the past week. I’ve already told you: I don’t want to do it, and I won’t. Now can I have my headphones back?”
“No, you cannot.” She stuffed them into the pocket of her jeans, knowing good and well in the back of her mind that it would be a while before her son would be able to use them again. “And you will do what I asked of you, no matter if you want to or not. I’ve already put your name in the program.”
“What is there to say?” He took one step closer, staring her straight in the eyes. “He’s dead, Mom! Nothing you say will change that. Nothing the preacher says will change that. Nothing I say will change that!”
For a sliver of a second, the fiery blaze in her eyes receded, leaving only empty blue orbs. Then the fire quickly roared back to life.
“He was my husband and your father. He deserves to be honored. All you have to do is read his favorite poem. That’s it.”
“No, Mom. I’m not doing it! I can’t do it!”
“And why is that?”
He swept both hands through his coarse, brown hair before turning around. His breaths began to become ragged. When he whipped back around to face his mother again, he yelled:
“Because we wrote that poem together!” His hands brushed through his hair again. “Because we spent hours at his desk, trying to find the right words to match the subject of the poem. Because that was the night he told me I had potential as a poet. Because the only reason he left for work early that one morning was to talk to his boss about a writing competition she had told him about.” He looked out the window in the room, staring at the paved road just a few feet from the front step of their house. “Look where that got him.”
Look where that got him.
Look where that got his son, walking through the woods in an attempt to escape his depressing thoughts, his overwhelming feelings . . .
. . . and to escape cruel reality.
Look where that got his wife, crying on the soft, leather couch in the living room because of the words she exchanged with her son yesterday. The words that bit into her heart and shattered her soul. She had already lost a husband—she didn’t want to lose a son.
But how does she prevent that from happening when her son is a poet? Words are a part of who he is, and he knows the right ones to use—the ones that are as sharp as wind.