Without exactly meaning to, Michael found his way home. By the time he realized where he was, he was already walking the quiet sidewalks of his neighborhood. He recognized home by the trees and palms that lined the streets, casting green-tinted shadows as the sunlight trickled through. He recognized the sweet fragrance of rose bushes, and the pink pool of fallen petals that always accumulated on the sidewalks. He recognized home as he passed the playground where he used to play. He recognized the doors he knocked on when he went trick-or-treating, and the fences he used to climb to retrieve a ball he or his uncle kicked too high.
Michael had stopped running at superhuman speed once he reached the bottom of the hills, and walked the rest of the way. It took almost three hours for him to cross through the heart of the city, wandering until he found himself standing in his backyard, staring up at the window to his bedroom. As far as he could tell, the house was quiet. His mother was probably asleep. He wanted to sneak into the house and watch her for minute before leaving her forever. He’d take something small, something she wouldn’t miss—a bracelet, a scarf—and then he’d be gone before she realized he had come back.
Michael opened his window with the power of his mind, and quietly soared into the warm gloom of his bedroom. He landed with a soft thud, and closed the window behind him. Looking around, he saw almost everything was as he left it: a moment frozen in time. His sagging futon was unmade; the sheets curled in a disheveled heap, his pajama pants tossed across the pillows. The toe of one flip-flop jutted from beneath one pillow; the other was in the center of the floor.
His desk was untouched: the books in the overhanging shelves perfectly aligned, the stack of unopened mail in the corner, the Star Wars mug where he kept his pens and pencils. Only Michael would notice the stick of deodorant missing from his dresser, the few books taken from his shelf, and the pictures on his nightstand that were no longer there. Cassandra did an impeccable job scavenging pieces of his life and leaving the rest undisturbed.
The air was heavy with a stale odor; a thin film of dust had accumulated on almost every surface.
When was the last time mom dusted? he thought. She knows I hate dust.
But as the dusty faces of his favorite characters stared at him from the posters on his walls, he understood that Elena would not be dusting his room again. His mother did not expect him to come home at all.
I’m not dead yet! Michael thought.
Suddenly, he heard the click of the doorknob turning, and he froze when he realized he’d thought those words out loud.
The above is an excerpt from my novel, “Prince of this World.” All work published on this blog is the property of Stephan Maldonado, who owns the official copyright for “Prince of this World” from the Library of Congress. “Prince of this World”, © 2012 Stephan Maldonado. All rights reserved.