Beyond Words Literary Magazine
Winner of the Dream Challenge
In my dream Kaden contracts Covid-19 virus. His excitement is matched molecule by molecule by my fury. I had begged him to shelter in his apartment in Boston, the way we were already mandated to in New York, instead of venturing out to the last local watering hole still open. But who really knows if Kaden contracted Covid whispering “4 shots of gin with soda” in the ear of the readheaded bartender he had the crush on? Who knows if he got it while his head, woozy with anti-depressants, leaned on the jukebox glass, his fingers searching Walk the Moon tunes? He could have, just as easily, gotten it from the sign-in pen at his Testosterone clinic. Of course, he might have contracted Covid simply not washing his hands often enough or long enough.
“Happy Birthday Twice” we taught the kids before viruses seemed lethal–
“Sing happy birthday silently to yourself and then sing it a second time each time you wash your hands.”
When he was 15, Kaden started saying he was “so done” with birthdays. I figure he stopped singing to himself sometime before.
Not caring about a happy birthday, or any birthday, Kaden took his young life nearly two years ago. “I forgive you” I wrote in my best penmanship on a scrap of paper I shoved into the box of his ashes we buried under the willow tree.
In my dream it’s Covid killing Kaden instead of Kaden killing Kaden.
And I don’t forgive him.