The son I never had is walking the hallways of high school. Sweat smell of locker room wafts down the corridor. Meat smell of the cafeteria seems soaked into walls. This weighs him down. More than the books full of words whose meaning eludes him. More than afternoon detentions in an empty classroom, breathing the dust of old ideas.
The child I never gave birth to has a Nintendo in his brain. Life unfolds before him drenched in color. Lights too bright flicker and explode. Scene shifts snap snap. Movement jerky and speeded up. Hurled words lack roundness, inflection.
When this motherless boy stares up at the sky at night, he sees no miracles. He sees airplanes and satellites, space debris, inert gasses, and light long dead, too remote to warm him.
The son I never held feels like he’s on fire. He’s burning up but I can’t reach to rest my hand on his forehead. Still he feels so alone, like a star separated from its galaxy. Blazing alone in space.
This boy whose nightmares I never soothed is wrapped in a trench coat. His heartbeat so loud beneath black canvas he’s sure it will give him away. His breath like a great machine. Boots click on linoleum.
The son I never had is stalking the hallways of high school, weapon cocked. He’s opening fire, spraying the walls with his revenge fantasy. Perfume of gunpowder soothes him. Metallic clang of the lockers. And the rifle’s report as it drowns the screaming, but he can’t tell if the screams come from inside or out.
Then people are lying on the ground, red running from holes that gape from foreheads, from chests. There is another odor now, old as earth, and it feels like it will drown him. This young man who never called me mother calls to me now.
He calls to me from the front page of the newspaper. From the blue light of the television. And people will ask, “Who mothered him?” and search for someone to blame. They will not ask, who did not give him life, catch his snot, dry his tears.
The son I never had sinks to his knees, stares up at me. The video game is almost over. Just one more shot before all enemies are vanquished. He wonders if I am finally proud.