April twenty-seventh

He has this thought, on days like this, that all it will take will be to find that one great song he hasn’t heard yet. That one song that will feel as if written for him even though it of course wasn’t. He never looks for it for too long, though. And he never finds it anyway.

Today the sunset is a little more orange than usual, he takes a note. It is only slightly yellow and the orange, so orange, fades to a pink, which he plays close attention to for minutes and minutes, no soundtrack at all, as it so slowly it otherwise would have been hard to see turns to violet and purple and the dark blue that to him, always brings ashen silence.

He knows it is a beautiful afternoon. Too beautiful for a Tuesday, too beautiful for him. And he imagines, with a nostalgia for what never was, himself in another life, another universe, watching this same sunset through this same window, and thinking the sweet and selfish thought of someone who for some sort of luck does not know better – the thought that maybe, just maybe, the stars tonight shine for him.

Today was clearly not a very good day. Nothing too remarkable happened. It usually doesn’t. It was a day that looked like all the others, that in a week your two will fade with all the ones that came before and the ones that came after, bland and pale, a story of quiet silence that he tells himself day and day again.

There isn’t much wrong with his life, he knows. His mom has a good job at the school and he will probably get a good enough scholarship to go to his second or third choice college in a couple of years and the guys he sits with at lunch have some good jokes and he’s had his own room since his brother moved out last year. There isn’t much wrong with his life, and he knows, he knows, and yet days that are like this are far more frequent than those that aren’t.

He is always cold in the mornings, even during the summer. Spring had begun the week before, and every day the sun was brighter and more obvious through the curtains of his glass window, but he had been as cold as always this morning. And he had a quick sip of late coffee for breakfast and got into his friend’s old silver Prius and went to Math and AP History and Physics and Gym and lunch where he kind of laughed at a story about something only slightly interesting and free period when that girl and American Literature and he took the bus to school and did homework and called his grandmother for eight minutes to say hi and tried finding a great song, a perfect song, that would fit so perfectly with the sunset and make him smile. And he gave up on finding the song, and he doesn’t want to be here, but can’t really think of any place where he does want to be.

He wishes tomorrow could be different, but it has been a while, and he knows better. Today and tomorrow will fade into a foggy idea of late April and the haze of sophomore year spring and then an impossible thought of the times when he was young. He wishes tomorrow could be different, because he cannot find within himself the vigor to see a future to wish for. He knows there will be one. But the colors and shapes of the years to come are as clear as the simple, complicated truth the stars that have just appeared tonight wished they could confide to him.

Next April 27th he will be right here, in this room, the window open to let in the cold air of an unusual spring, and he will keep looking for a song. He won’t find it just yet, but he will look for longer.

And senior year he will be driving to get ice cream with this girl he has none for four years and never talk to, this girl who will kiss him and love him be young and foolish enough to think they’re so special, and they well share an ice cream cone because it seems like the thing will do with your first love. They’ll listen to her favorite song on the drive back, and it will not be perfect, but nice for that night, in a way.

His first year of college, on that exact day, he will be celebrating the last day of classes, with some people that not long before were all over the country, to him nothing but faded unknown thoughts of a future it was hard to believe in. He won’t have found the song just yet.

Asleep from exhaustion, on the movies for a first date that will be followed by no second, drinking in the middle of the day because he has officially finished college. Driving across four states to see an old friend, moving into a new apartment, a little bigger than the last one, ordering pizza because tonight he will be too tired to cook.

At some point between now and then, he will forget to look for that great song. And on many days between now and then, he will find new ones, a greatness other than what himself to expect, and at the sweet taste of a nice surprise, he will smile. He will stop looking for that one perfect song.

And that day in late April, year after year, will be only a day in late April, a faded thought of last spring or the one after that. As unimportant as the one that came before. And today, tonight when the sky is dark blue and the stars so desperately want to shine for him, will be only part of the bittersweet haziness of what it meant to be young and unknowing.

Ordering pizza because tonight he will be too tired to cook, on the phone with his grandmother telling her about this girl he has been dating for a while, asleep on the couch next to this beautiful, beautiful girl, taking the baby to the movies for the first time, making pasta for dinner, at a kid’s birthday party, laughing at a show everyone else hated, helping Jack study for another Math quiz, asleep on the couch because today was a hard day at work. Year through year, a day in late April, as unimportant as any other, the inevitable victim of the fogginess which lays upon the days we leave behind.

And he will listen to some really good songs, and sunsets have a way of being all the same and yet, somehow, unbelievably, remarkably unique.

Year through year, leaving a play everyone else loved, calling the lawyer again about the divorce, watching the news after dinner, driving back from the mall, year through year, a day like any other, some years nicer like spring so often is, some years rainy or far too cold, because nothing can ever be as perfect as anyone could wish.

And then after what seems like not long enough the haziness of late spring will begin to clear, and it will be April 27th, and he will be pale and still on a hospital back, the empty sadness of eyes that loved him gazing back at the void that is about to take over all he is and has ever been. Faraway there will be a song, unremarkable like any other, and it won’t be perfect because there is no such thing as perfect after all. The haziness of late spring will clear, and that night, the darkness of the sky will be as beautiful as it is sad, and in a way the stars will quietly shine for him.

Some time between now and then, he will stop looking for the perfect song. He will open the window and breathe in the sweet spring air of late April, and from beyond the sunlight the stars will stare back at him.

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