How to Handle Love and Loss: A Letter to My Son on the Brink of Adolescence
That time when you were six and you stood atop the swell of a hill at the park, your small fists gripping the ribbed handlebars of a bike with only two wheels, your head held steady as you stared down the long grassy slope, how the pulse in your neck jumped. How the falling light of a November dusk flooded the field in green and gold, how your sneakered toes pushed off the ground. How you pedaled faster than I could run, and my fingers slipped from the edge of the seat and yet you never fell. Like that.
That time when you were twelve and sat at the desk curved over a keyboard, slender and strong like a finely crafted bow, for thirty hours over four restless summer days, taut with a promise to yourself that you would build an ocean liner block by block starting only with a blank screen. How on that first day you miscalculated one block among a thousand, stood in quiet devastation, and left the room. How you returned ten minutes later and calmly erased an afternoon’s work and started from the beginning. How you got it right the second time. Like that.
That time when something in you will awaken.
The way you’ll lie awake at night consumed by the unbearable agony of wanting to be known.
That time when you become known, the way it’s somehow worse.
That time when you’ll throw your car into gear and pull away from the regret in her eyes that tells you it’s really over, and you drive all night trying to ignore the throbbing of blood beneath your fingers at the memory of her skin. How the memory is fading. How the pain swells inside you and then around you until you feel swallowed by your own heart. How you’re sure because there’s nothing left you’ll just keep driving and never turn around. The way you turn around. Like that.
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband and two children. Her work has been published in Brevity Magazine, The Portland Review, Superstition Review, Motherwell, Literary Mama, Hospital Drive, YA Review Network (YARN), and a few other places. Her debut novel, The Fourth Wall, was released in June 2014 through WiDo Publishing. Links to Elizabeth’s work can be found on her website, elizabethmarianaranjo.com.