I watch Teddy sleeping. His cheeks, almost translucent, are glowing. His fair hair, fine as feathers, is sprawled across the Spiderman pillowcase, and his small fingers are curled up into a fist. He giggles in his sleep, and it makes me laugh out loud. Watching him. Just watching him sleep is pure joy. I envy him his dreams though.
Once upon a time, I was a boy who could dream like him. I scored the winning goal, won the biggest prize, or even discovered I had the ability to float off the ground and fly away. Yes, I had nightmares, too. My teeth fell out. I found myself alone and naked in the middle of town. Or my school became a labyrinth, and I could not get to the classroom where I needed to be. But even those nightmares were preferable to what followed.
The Norse god, Odin, gave his eye in exchange for the gift of knowing. I would give an eye to be free of this gift. Free of things I didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see. My friend Jason’s horrible accident, my parent’s growing apart, my cousin Mark’s madness. But I learned that no matter what I tried to do to change things, fate had her way. Jason’s leg got pinned under that car. My parents divorced and Mark ended in an institution surrounded by tormenting voices.
And what can I do but go on living? Horrible things will happen whether I see them in my dreams or not. I bend now to put my lips against Teddy’s soft, warm cheeks, and I vow to make the most of our time together – even though I know when - and exactly how - he will die.