Sunday, June 10, 2007

A journal, before the flames.

(June 2007)
Josh MacLeod

He told me last night, came clean. I’d called his school found out about the missing days, the forged notes, the lies. A lot of people were confused, because they’d heard my voice on the phone. Making up illnesses, aches, deaths in the family. But his marks went down, and he hedged as to why, so I called.
        The school couldn’t give me straight answers. I’m not sure what they’re going to make of it. I don’t know how he’s going to fix it. But that’s his job, what the little bastard does. Only he’s not one: he’s my son. I know it, even if he can fly, and do strange things with energy he has a hard trouble explaining.
        He’s been putting on a costume, since the accident. He almost died; we never sued, because Lisa hated people who did, and he lived. But he was changed. Four years, and he never told me. Not even when Lisa died.
        I looked back on the net. The asteroid belt had a lot of meteors explode that night. She smoked, Lisa did. You can’t save people from that. But he never talked to me, never said a thing. Did use it, to justify leaving more school, saving more lives. Faked visits to a psychiatrist. Wouldn’t look at me, admitting that.
        But I’d told him to come clean or not at all. To tell me - hell, I don’t know what. I’d expected sane things, like drugs. A girlfriend. A boyfriend, even. Not this. He has a costume, though no name. He tries to not get seen; he assured me of that part.
        He was scared. God, but I was scared of him too. Of these things he can do. Parents don’t really want exceptional children: do that, and you’re left with knowing they’re what you could have been, what you never had the courage to be. You end up hating them, a little. You give them all you never had, and they don’t thank you.
        Not that kids should thank parents for being parents, but even so.
        Even so.

I didn’t talk much. I’m still trying to take it in, to find a way to understand this. He’s saving lives, being what he is, doing it. I’d like to thank he’s taking after me, but he’s not. I’ve never saved anyone.

He came home from school. Even went there and didn’t leave. It’s costing him. Maybe costing him me, really. No one really loves a jailer. He was talking about his secret identity, about wondering why he had his powers.
        I told him mine.
        Not my powers, I don’t have those. No more than anyone else. Not being exceptional could be one, but it’s not. I told him about my secret identity.
        We all have them, after all. Parts of ourselves we never share. Things we keep private, to have anything to call our own. Mysteries and little secrets we keep from family, lovers: even pets, because there has to be some mystery, new things to learn about each other.
        This wasn’t like those. I told him about the heroin. I didn’t think me using had any bearing on what he became, I just wanted him to understand he wasn’t unique, not as much as he thought. That we all had secret selves.
        Maybe so that I could hurt him, even now. I don’t like to think that, but I'm trying to be honest, writing in a notebook. Before I destroy it. Keeping this private. Secret.
        I told him how his mother saved me, got me into rehab, eventually - well, he knew the eventually. I told him again anyway, even when he tried to make an excuse about some semi trailer on the highway. I think he understood us better now; certainly his mother.
        I told him he has to pass his courses, at least. And decide to do things after, more than just saving people. He suggested joining a newspaper as a journalist-photographer and I almost choked on my coffee. Which he’d intended, the brat.
        Sometimes he’s still my son. Still a kid, even now.
        I offered to help, with the school. Offered a GED, home schooling. If it comes to that. But I made sure he knows he’s as important as other people, that he shouldn’t sacrifice is well-being for them. I tried, I least. I’m not sure I got through, but at least I’m someone he can talk to now, about anything.

        It’s harder, this morning. I keep resisting turning on the TV, guessing, worrying. I tell myself he’s fine. He’s done this for four years. He knows what he’s doing.
        I tell myself he’d say if he was worried, because we don’t have important secrets anymore, just mysteries between us.

        He still won’t admit to dating.

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