He tapped his pencil to the rhythm of the ticking clock. His eyes stared, unseeing, at the life cycle of a fern. He had not moved from his room while his parents had gone out. He had promised them he would not. They had gone to the clinic for their annual check-ups. His lips turned downward at the reminder of their aging bodies.
He closed his eyes, the image of the fern lingering behind his eyelids. It was soon joined by bushes and trees and the songs of birds. He could feel their wingbeats brushing against his cheek, ruffling his hair. Their calls surrounded him from all sides. When he turned his head, he could see them darting between branches. Flashes of red, of brown, of blue. Hoofbeats sounded obliquely and when he turned, he saw a small herd of deer pausing to graze. He smiled as he breathed the fresh green pine.
Something glimmered in the corner of his eye and he walked forward, skirting a few trees as he made his way closer. It glittered like gold, bright as the sun. And deep within his heart he felt such longing that it hurt.
Close. He was so close. He reached out.
He inhaled sharply as the light disappeared and he opened his eyes. And for a moment, a fleeting moment that lingered deep within his heart, he felt such a vivid sense of loss that he wanted to scream.
Cool spring air breezed through the open door. His right hand was still on the handle, and he had taken a step outside, his bare foot warm against the chilled ground. His mother stared at him, her eyes wide as she stared at him. Something golden reflected within her eyes, but it was gone when he blinked.
“I-” He frowned, not sure how exactly had arrived at the door without realizing it.
“It’s very sweet of you to open the door for us, son. These old bones just aren’t as spry as they used to be,” his Dad patted his arm as he walked past his son and into the house.
He nodded jerkily, stepping back to let his mother inside as well. She was still staring at him, face tight with something that resembled sorrow.
“Is everything alright?” He asked concernedly. “Did the Doctors find anything bad?”
“Oh, no, fit as a fiddle we are. Don’t you worry about us.” She bustled past him, twisting her lips upwards, and forcing the rest of her face to follow suit.
He nodded and closed the door. Through the small window he stared for a moment into the forest that seemed to crawl closer to the house every year. He swore, for a moment, that he saw a golden light lingering within the safety of the canopy.
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