There is nothing but light surrounding him, enclosing his very being, and it’s safe. He doesn’t feel much, and he asks himself “What is going on?”, like that, a bit incredulously, but he’s not worried. He just can’t be worried.
His eyes are closed. They have to be, because the light is dim now; it’s like when you close your eyes beneath the sun. It’s warm and it’s dark, but not really dark, because the light is pressing against you. It’s not dark, because you know the light is there.
An image comes to mind. Mind. It’s a house, a house being kept in place by magic and it emits warmth unlike anything he’s ever registered until now. He hears laughter. It comes from somewhere to his left but when he looks he doesn’t see anything. His eyes are still closed. They’re closed. He listens, and it’s distinct now, it’s definitely there to his left, there’s laughter. Two boys, two brothers. He knows this.
The laughter fades against the sound of a frog croaking nearby, bees buzzing, birds singing. The sounds of nature take over, but he doesn’t mind. He’ll hear the laughter again, he will, and soon.
This house. His home. It’s there, not just an image anymore, but a genuine part of his entire being – memories, people, laughter and anger, joy, sadness – it’s all there, he feels it now, it’s suddenly him, the particles he’s made of are made of everything he remembers, of everything he’s ever experienced.
His eyes are closed. Warmth is pressing against him. Relief. Memories.
It’s getting darker. He doesn’t feel worried, doesn’t feel much except the relief and warmth, but he’s clinging to it nonetheless. This place. Nature and life and laughter, why must it go away?
The light is slipping away. But the warmth remains.
And that’s when he hears it again. Two boys, two brothers – laughing. Planning something that will make them laugh, will make the others a tiny bit upset for just a split second, until they’ll join in.
His family. It’s his family. He’s with them.
He can rest now.
“It’s April 1st, Fred. I can’t believe we’re turning 32. Do you? I mean… Hell, I don’t know what I mean. I wonder what you’d say about it. Why do I even have to ask myself? It used to be so easy, remember? The kids were all over me today with gifts and I don’t know what else. But they’re still kids, Roxie is seven and Fred is five. I think it’s sometimes easy for them to forget that April 1st isn’t just my birthday, you know? It’s our birthday. We always had something up our sleeves on our birthday and Mom would always let us off easy because of it.
“Angelina has been smiling all day. And I love her for it, I do. But she remembers too. April and May are not easy months, I tell you. And I know, why the bloody hell shouldn’t they be? It’s been twelve years. Still isn’t easy, though, I don’t think it ever will. Don’t hold that against me.
“Mum wouldn’t stop fussing over me today – never does on this day. And, as she’d done these past twelve years, before leaving she held my face in her hands and she looked into my eyes and I let her, always do. I’m not you, Fred. And she knows that. But she sees you in me.
“It’s getting dark. I should be getting home; Angelina will probably start to get worried. Can’t help it, she really can’t, not since she became a mother. She’s wonderful, Fred. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, but she is. I’m very happy. But I miss you. I do. People say it gets easier with time, but it doesn’t. It really doesn’t. I’m living life and you’re… You’re not here. And that’s when I ask myself: ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ And for some reason, I laugh after asking myself that. I laugh, and to tell you the truth, I’m not even sure why.
“I have to go. It’s getting chillier. It’s dark now. I’ll be back soon. Until then, Freddie.”