His long body stretches from under the speaker stand, skinny little ankles blasting from his jeans like a growth spurt. There’s a speaker where his head should be. “Wild Horses” blasts out of a speaker almost as big as he is. That kid’s got his head buried in his own little music underground and probably won’t come out for an hour.
“Turn it up, Mom!”
I give the nob a turn and plop back down in my leather chair and start to flip through W.
Childhood living…is easy to do
What’s he thinking about under there? Do his 10 year old ears hear this? He is stone cold still, hands on his belly. What’s my boy thinking about?
I watched you suffer a dull aching pain, Now you decided to show me the same…
Does he feel the dark places already? Hunh…
He ran so hard in baseball today. Smudges ran from eyeball to cleat when he was done. The boys were all talking at once as they walked home from the park… Dad would be proud. The poetry of baseball passed on to his grandkid. Probably Bird learned some of that from him. Dad is so much gentler with Bird than he ever was with us as a kid. I remember a stone-faced man in a crisp navy jacket – if he wasn’t in uniform. Bird’s going to remember someone different. Won’t it be a kick to see what he does think of Dad when he gets older.
Bird hasn’t moved since the song started. He’s been under there for almost a half hour. It’s like he’s playing that game that toddlers play…and they think you can’t see them if they cover their own eyes up.
I page through my magazine and wait for Bill to come home. Maybe I’ll make dinner tomorrow.
Bird’s feet twitch and I watch for him to emerge… Last night his face lit up so bright I swear those freckles were glowing…my handsome devil…my sweet boy.
I have my freedom…but I don’t have much time
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away, baby.
Bird’s world is the size of a one foot cube. It is olive green. It is safe and dark and calm.
Childhood living…is easy to do
The raw voice starts but Bird doesn’t hear. The plodding guitar strum fills his cube, resonates through his chest. He just feels. Bass builds and swells the room and in his head and it drains freedom into his muscles. His stocking feet droop to the sides.
Faith has been broken…let’s do some living after love dies
A finger rocks on a guitar string. He sees the metal string pressed and bony knuckles flex and cascade along the neck.
I know I dreamed you…
The voices tether to each other in an awkward, three legged harmony. They land the beat just out of step with one another. The poetry wraps around the last line.
Wild horses, couldn’t drag me away
The song peters out and Bird’s little speaker underworld empties for a breath and then thickens with love from the intangible crowd and Bird’s room is full again.
Bird drifts for a moment as the track ends. His room is quiet but he hears the echoes of the plodding refrain. He doesn’t think, but his chest fills with a knowing. He knows wants to want as bad as that song wants. The knowing tells him that he will some day. The knowing in his chest tells him something sweet is waiting on the other side of wanting. While the next song loads, he stares at the bottom of the wood table and traces his finger along the rough, unsanded wood grain and up to the unfinished particle board of the speakers. His room will fill again in moments, the guitar strum and drum pouring into his body and he will go away with the music again, feel his hands around the drum sticks, slip his fingertip across the guitar strings, will the bass to grow and drown out the world.
Hey Jude, refrain…don’t carry the world upon your shoulders…
Big man lyrics fill the little man’s room. The room seems to glow orange now. There is more he will understand later, but he knows what this big music means even now, with his stocking feet hanging out into the living room and his head buried under a tower of music.
NOTE: I don’t usually do fiction, but this old friend visited me the other night, and told me that he used to do this as a kid. Later, I was rumenating on it, and that little boy came to me so strong I had to write it.