Kai.

I reach out and brush up against her bare legs.

Kai, I call out.

She freezes and looks around, but she doesn’t look down, so I reach up and brush against her again.

Kai.

The sun bounces off my skin. She brings a hand up to shield her eyes. Her toes squeeze in the sand.

Come to me, Kai.

I pull away and watch her look around again before taking a deep breath.

She dives into my skirts. The cool silks billow and ripple away from her. I scoop her up in my arms and carry her towards me.

Why am I here? She wonders.

Hush, my child. I smooth back her hair, whisper love in her ears, and guide her away from shore.

She’s breathless. I can see her struggling to hold on.

I lift her up; breathe, Kai.

She fills her lungs up then returns to my embrace. Her eyes open wide for the first time since she dived in. I spin her around and laugh at the wonder behind her eyes.

Welcome home.

What’s in a name?

What does it mean to be worthy of a name?

I was supposed to do great things – that’s what she kept telling me.

“Nathan Nightingale. We’re saving you for something special.”

The first half of my life was spent listening to her coo over me. She would protect me from her world; keeping me out of sight, but always within her reach.

“You’ll do great things,” she told me, “I’m just not sure what yet.”

The second half of my life was spent trying to figure out what it was that I could do.

She didn’t want me to break hearts because “that’s what they all do, dear.” I was supposed to be better than that.

“You’re Nathan Nightingale. You are merely too important to break hearts.”

I was too proper to go into space. I was too pretty to go to war. I was too perfect to be just another high school anti-hero.

I lingered in the dark corner she had long since placed me in. She’d forget about me for months on end before tripping over herself screaming my name.

It always came back to my name.

“I could be a prince,” I suggested. She sat at her desk, looking in my direction but seeming to be staring right through me.

“No… a prince is expected. And besides, I’m no regal advisor.”

I didn’t have a path in life. We could never find one, and with each new failure, I would retreat back into my dark corner with my head and self-esteem lower than the time before.

“They always tell you the name is the most important part, Nathan Nightingale, but they never tell you how to plan the rest.”

She never asked what I wanted to be. She never let me tell my own story. I was always there. Always listening to what script she would lay out for me, only to rip it away again.

“This is no story for Nathan Nightingale!”

I’m not sure what I would say if she asked me what I wanted to be (another thing she wants me to say). I have never been more than just a name.

Just a boy with an amazing, grand, royal, perfect name and no way to live up to it.

 

Give me a name

It’s amazing how you can’t recognize someone until they have a name.

She’s followed me for years. Always just out of sight, keeping her distance. I didn’t know her. I couldn’t see her clearly, and so, I kept her away. She hid in the shadows. A long, dark figure – not really a person – just the basic outline of one.

“…depression.”

She slithered up beside me on the exam table and hissed in my ear.

I blinked up at my doctor. What did he mean?

“Hiya! Nice to finally meet you,” her snake like tongue flickered out and licked my neck.

I tried to shove her – Depression – away, but now that I knew her, it was harder.

For years, I thought I was seeing things. I thought she was a figure of my imagination. And when I stopped believing that, I looked for other people’s shadowy friends. If I had one, everyone else must too, right?

With my doctor’s diagnosis, I realized this was a problem. Something out of the ordinary – something that not everyone had.

Suddenly everything I had felt – or not felt – was validated. She had a name. She had a look. She had a voice. It was harsh, but intoxicating. I could no longer ignore her calls. I fell into her arms, and studied her face.

She was the shape of me, but stripped down. Where I had lively eyes, she had empty black pits. Where I had a mane of hair, she had a smooth black head. Where I had full lips, she had a thin line, only opening when her long split tongue would dart out.

There was a day when she ran back to the shadows. I was concerned.

“Where’s Depression?” I asked. “Where’d she go? She’s mine now.”

I was confused. I was happy without her, but she was my burden to carry. I didn’t want to call her back, but her name slipped off my lips.

It’s funny how once you know someone’s name, it’s harder to let them go.

A Sonnet for Sonnet’s Sake

Here. Here is a sonnet for sonnet’s sake.

A song to a loved one I never had

Because the last one I loved was a snake—

Months proving I know how to pick them bad.

 

This is not for him, but it could be yours.

The love who I know will walk through the door,

The one to hold me when it rains, then pours.

The one I can prove I love so much more.

 

The love I know is messy and it hurts.

It’s school-girl crushes, and Riley, and her.

It’s longing, and being left with their shirts.

It’s annoyance where those memories were.

 

But, I’m done that now and waiting for you—

My one true love. The one I can call, “boo.”

 

The Kind of Cold that…

It’s the kind of cold that you can’t get warm from.

It’s the kind of cold that has a chill to the bone; the kind that makes ice run through your veins. It’s the kind of cold that freezes tears before they can fall from your eyes.

It’s the kind of cold that covers deep puddles of sorrows with thin layers of icy tops, waiting to be broken through. The kind of ice that you’ll slip on and crash through, and as you begin to drown in the puddles, you wonder if it’s worth trying to get up.

Will you be able to get up again?

It’s the kind of cold that haunts our lives.

It’s the kind of cold that shoots words as icicles pass our cold, chapped lips.

It’s the kind of cold you can’t escape from, no matter how hard you try.

It’s the kind of cold you want someone else to see; someone else to notice; someone else to say “I feel it too.”

It’s the kind of cold that needs someone else to wrap you up in their arms so you feel warmth again.

It’s the kind of cold that needs help.