A/N: This is my first story on this site. I really hope you all enjoy.

Playmates

She remembers his first year.

He is small. Much too small for the large bump he made in her stomach. She kisses his forehead and holds, holds, holds him in her arms. He is her treasure now.

She sings him to sleep. She holds him to her bosom, allowing the beating of her heart to lull him toward his dreams. She waits until his crying ceases, until his breathing deepens. And even then she keeps him in her arms far into the night. She does not wish to join her husband in sleep. Her son is her only comfort.


He is one and he crawls. His eyes (green, like hers) are wide and his mouth large. He touches everything and everything, in turn, brings him delight. She watches him experience the world and her heart laughs with his. This is the only time she is truly happy.


He is two and that is when everything goes wrong.

He is two and his father (her husband) never comes home. On the day of the funeral, she holds his tiny hand in hers. He is abnormally still and obedient that day. Like a (good) wife, she cries when she sees his father in the casket.

She doesn't cry again until he is ten.


He is three and she notices that he no longer touches the world. He never looks at the comforts of his home anymore. His eyes stay fixed at a point beyond the physical. She kneels in front of him to fix his shirt. She does this slowly, as if to keep him in front of her forever.

But he never once looks at her and, instead, smiles (he hasn't smiled like this in a long time) at something behind her. She looks over her shoulder to see the cause of his reaction. There is nothing there. She turns back.

He is still smiling.


He is four and she finds him in front of the window in his room. It is midnight and there is no light except for the moon. She enters. Her hands lie comfortably at her sides.

"Dear," she calls softly. "Why are you up so late?"

He does not move. She moves toward him. She lays a hand on his shoulder. "Dear. You should be asleep."

He still does not move. Her hand trembles a little. She whispers his name. "Please go to sleep."

Her son slowly turns to face her, a slight smile on his face. "Yes, Mommy," he says, but he doesn't budge. He stares right into her face.

His eyes look black, but she blames it on the absence of light.


He is six and he stands outside on the lawn. He is still, so still.

She looks out the window, concern etched on her face, but for one hour he does not move. (She gives up watching him after that.)

It isn't until the sun sets, until the crickets chirp, and the fluorescent lights of the street lamps turn on that he comes back inside. She kneels in front him.

"What were you doing out there?"

"I was waiting," he states simply.

"For…who?" she inquires. For what?

He smiles. "They said they would come."

When she shivers, she swears it's because of the cold.


He is eight and she thinks she hears strange sounds in his room. She presses her ear to his door.

She hears nothing, save her son's breathing. Just as she pulls her ear away, she thinks she hears a laugh, his laugh. But she blames it on her imagination.


He is ten and he brings a friend home. His friend is loud and boisterous and full of life. She likes him immediately and is glad her son has a friend like him.

The young boy grins like there's no tomorrow. "I'm gonna teach him how to paint! I'm a good painter you know, everyone says so! And since he's my friend I gotta teach him everything I know!"

She laughs at his statement and she claps in delight. She looks over at her son. He just stands there, staring at his friend, a smile on his face.

The two children go to his room, the young boy laughing, as bright as the sun. Five hours later, the sun sets and she goes to check up on the children. Quietly, she opens the door.

He is alone. There is paint all over the floor. She spots red on his pants and all over his shirt. In the back of her mind, she wonders how she will ever get the stains off.

"Wh-what happened to your friend?" she asks, trying to control the shaking of her voice.

"He went away." The smile on his face never wavers.

She couldn't help it. She starts crying. And he just sits there, staring at her tear-stained face.


He is thirteen and she receives a call on her cell phone. It's her son and she answers almost immediately.

"Mom, I have to go away. There's something I have to do." His voice is soft, with a hint of glee. She imagines his smile.

Her shaking hands clutch the receiver to her ear. "Are…are you sure?"

"Yes," he breathes.

And she sobs, sobs, sobs into the phone. "Come home sometimes, okay?"

She listens to his breathing from the other end. For a moment that lasts an eternity of a second, they stay like this: him, breathing, her, sobbing. It is he who hangs up first.

For a while yet, she holds the phone to her cheek, listening absently to the beeping sound in her ears.


Some years later (she calculates his age to be around 20), she receives a call from an unknown number. She hesitates to answer.

The person at the other end stays silent. She is breathing and he is breathing and she hears a mighty wind through the speakers of the phone and she imagines him caught in a storm. She was about to open her mouth to answer when he cuts her off.

His voice is strange, ethereal. "I won't be coming home. Ever."

And then he hangs up.


A/N: Thank you all very much for your time and I hope you have a blessed day.