It’s nearly 6 in the morning and I know why I’m writing this to you.
I don’t know if you remember, but we had taken a trip to the lake one weekend. It was about 79 kilometres away from where we lived, you were about 4 years old – I was 7.
We fought on the way, because you refused to wear a seat belt, and you’d lean forward, right in between mom and dad (who would take turns driving). They had chosen me as your safety officer for the ride. And each time a car whooshed past us on the highway, I could feel my entire body tense up. Mom and dad were both yelling at you to sit still, but you didn’t. I felt helpless. I didn’t want screaming inside the car, I hated noise. I didn’t know what to do with you. After much struggle, I had decided that you were the most stubborn, incorrigible and annoying child to have ever been born. I couldn’t imagine a more misbehaved child. But you were only 4 and I was only 7. And children of that age have selective memories. Because I had forgotten that I was equally stubborn, incorrigible and annoying at 4 years old.
I wondered why you didn’t want to listen to me. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, because all I wanted was for you to be safe. But maybe you just didn’t like that I was in charge. You’d have ridden on the roof of that car if you knew it was something I didn’t want you to do. So, after half the journey was over, I changed tactics with you. I called out to you in a loving voice. And I asked you to play a game with me. You loved games. More than you loved to defy me. You finally crawled to the next seat and after I buckled you in, we spent the rest of the way spotting yellow cars. By the time we reached the resort near the lake, I had counted 28 yellow cars and you had counted 2. This was because I was sitting on the side of oncoming traffic. I realized for the first time, not only how easily fooled you were, but also that you responded to affection.
I know why I’m writing you this letter. I aways wanted you to be safe. And then that day had arrived, 25 years later. While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered. And before we opened it, I knew that it would tell me you were dead.
And it did.
You died in battle, a hero. And all I could remember was this little boy that I failed to keep safe.
I’m writing this letter because even though I’ve locked you up in a corner of my brain, I open the door sometimes and push in another memory, another moment, allowing myself to tell you I miss you. I tell your past – and mine – that I remember you, and me.
And sometimes, I whisper an apology.
This is my first entry for the Speakeasy challenge #104 this week at Yeah Write.
You can read the contributions by other writers at the above link. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. As always, I look forward to your thoughts. Cheers!