The Lifeless Boy, Who Could Fly: Flash Fiction
Herbert, ever Vigilant
In his dreams, he flies high over the hills and streams deeper and deeper into the wilderness. He leaves civilization with all its rules behind. Elijah dreams of the freedom he lost. The ever-present beep, beep, beep of the respirator is a constant reminder of his bondage. He wakes to a world much different than his dreams. A white acoustic tile ceiling with a dark rusty-red stain he named Herbert. The Stain showed up about a month ago from a leak in an upstairs bathroom. Herbert stands vigil over Elijah. A nurse comes in and does something just out of view. She smiles and says something comforting while showing her real thoughts in her look of hopelessness. She vanishes, and Elijah is alone again with his ever-present guardian Herbert.
Three years ago, Elijah and his family were driving into the country. It was a warm summer day in a sea of summer days with no end. His parents had a cabin in the woods near a stream. They went there every weekend as an escape from the pressures of modern city life. Those days are a blur to Elijah. He remembered his parents arguing as they usually did on the long drive home. In their rush to get back to the city, his car seat wasn’t attached right. He remembered the strange feeling as the car seat went up and down with the bumps. In his dreams, he flies. Specks of sparkling glass and blotches of something red pass bye as he and his seat sail free of the car, of the road, of everything holding him to the earth as he flies into the sun. He woke to his new reality.
Alone in the Air
Every other day, a man named Tim comes and moves Elijah’s limbs. As before, Elijah doesn’t feel any of it. The ever-present beep, beep, beep of the respirator is a reminder he is alive. Tim says something with a smile on his face and a demeanor that reminds Elijah of the surgeons who saved the half-life he was living. In those early days, Elijah’s mother was with him every day. It took her two years of excuses lies and distractions for her to tell Elijah his father was dead dying in the crash. Her visits went from every hour to every other day to nothing. Elijah remembers hearing a doctor say he was most likely just meat being held alive by machines. Now all he has is Herbert, but in his dreams, he can fly.
Elijah tries to move his arms and legs, but nothing happens. He can’t move his head, and with the thing, in his neck, he can’t speak. A week ago, Elijah remembered someone saying he just turned seven. In the same conversation, he remembers hearing one of them say something about a pillow and ending it all. Still, every day is the same. The ever-present beep, beep, beep of the respirator is a reminder of how the people around him keep him alive. Back in those early days, people would come and read to him, but the readers were gone. The curiosity of what one nurse called the lifeless boy wore thin as did the visitors reading books and his mother’s presence. Elijah closes his eyes and flies out the window into a world of sunshine and life.
Never Look Back
Time goes by at it does for everyone; that is everyone except Elijah. He lays in his bed, staring at Herbert and listening to the ever-present beep, beep, beep of the respirator. A shadowy form comes in and out of view. The sun was gone with the only light in the room coming from above him somewhere; Elijah thought about his dreams of flying. The blur moved in, and as if it was floating nearby. A strange feeling came across Elijah. He felt both hot and cold at the same time. Soon the feeling was all over his body as he soared over a mountain range coming close enough to touch the snowcap. Elijah remembers the feeling of snow, making snowmen, sledding, and the feeling of cold and wetness when making a snow angel.
Something touched Elijah’s face waking him from his flight. A distant feeling of something both strange and familiar came across him. He felt a tear run down his cheek. Elijah’s view of Herbert shifted as if someone was moving his bed. He felt his head shift with the change. Herbert went from being on his right to near dead center. The shadowy form came closer until it hit him in the face. It was a hand; it was his hand. The ever-present beep, beep, beep of the respirator grew louder until it was almost deafening. Another constant buzzing sound came from just above him. Lights came on, and soon the room was filled with people. Elijah looked up, but Herbert was gone; He sat up, and all the adults were gone; the tubes were gone. Elijah was dressed in his favorite Superman pajamas. He looked up as the ceiling fell away, revealing an endless blue sky. Elijah jumped into the air and flew into the blue, never looking back.
© 2020 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron