What a week. I bought you a chemistry set. You’re so smart and curious. I honestly thought that it would be a good idea.
And it was, at first. You were taking measurements, mixing ingredients, writing down everything in your notebook.
I should have supervised you more carefully. I can’t believe I left you out there alone, with vials of acetone, benzene, and ethanol.
What was I thinking?
I smelled the smoke first, and when I got outside, you were calmly walking away from the fire. I panicked.
Once you were safe, your panic kicked in, and you ran screaming towards the street.
Hearing your screams forced me to focus. I grabbed the extinguisher from the porch and went at it.
“Wait on the sidewalk!” I yelled.
“Come with me, Pops!” you yelled back.
“I can’t! Just go!”
At last the fire was out.
We were both OK.
The house was OK, too, surprisingly.
The chemistry set was ruined. I’m not getting a new one.
You seemed OK. I was worried that the fire might trigger old traumas, but you calmed down pretty quickly. I was the one who was tense.
The next day, you played at the dollhouse, eyes closed and singing, like you do:
“Star brother, brother-star.
My house was on fire!
“Hear me brother-star,
I have a new house.”
“Is that a new song?” I asked you.
“No,” you replied. “It’s an old one. It’s Manny’s song. He had a fire, too, and he had to get a new house. Will we get a new house, Pops?”
“No,” I replied. “We’re staying here.”
“Good,” you said. “I like it here.”
I don’t know who Manny is, if he’s one of your imaginary friends or one of those that you somehow talk to when your eyes are closed.
Either way, his song brought you peace.
Sometimes I feel that we’ve got invisible helpers spread through the universe, bringing us strength when we need it–courage, comfort, resilience.
Maybe that’s who Panda, Rocket, and Manny are–some sort of connection to your first home, in a way I might never understand.
Keep being a mystery, son. You really are a star boy.