He’s six when he runs around the playground, face pointed at the sky, daydreaming about protecting the galaxy from invaders and cannibalistic aliens. He trips and falls, and when he looks up, someone is sneering down at him, their leg sticking out.
“Watch where you’re going, freak,” they say, and he doesn’t understand.
He’s nine when he last builds a snowman. He looks at it when he’s done, and he doesn’t feel the same joy he did last year, and the year before. (and the year before, and the year before)
It melts a few days later. He doesn’t pretend it’s a bully from school, because it’s just snow. That’s all everyone tells him.
It’s just that. Nothing more, nothing less.
There haven’t been any visits from aliens who seek to conquer Earth since he was eight, and he’s fifteen now. He does his homework and he studies and he eats his lunch instead of pretending it’s a strange fruit poisonous to all of mankind. There are no more worrying glances.
His parents no longer talk about him when they think he can’t hear. He doesn’t hear the words “too old”, “concerned”, and “should see someone” pass their lips.
He thinks he should see someone, because the aliens had said they’d be back in a few years, and they haven’t come back.
He checks the mail today, and this time it isn’t because he’s hoping for something he bought off the back of a cereal box. (he wonders where his x-ray glasses and magic hat have gone to)
He’s eighteen, and his college acceptance letters have arrived. When they celebrate, he feels like the smile he forces is taking over him.
He’ll just be a smile one day, and maybe that’s okay. Smiles can’t feel, but then again, neither can he.
It’s New Year, and he’s laying out in the snow. He can hear the people shouting inside.
He looks at the stars for the first time in what feels like forever.
He tries to see spaceships flying across the sky.
He doesn’t see any, and turns around and buries his face in the snow.
He wonders what would happen if he just held his breath.
If he just closed his eyes and covered his ears and held his nose.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
He can’t remember the last time he was happy.
He’s twenty-two, freshly graduated from college, and he has no idea what to do with his life.
He sneaks out of his bed one night and walks a ways away from the house. (it’s not his, and it’s not home)
It’s freezing outside, and he forgot to take a blanket with him. It doesn’t matter, he thinks to himself. It’ll be okay because it has to be okay.
He stays outside for a long time, long enough to watch the stars disappear and the sky turn red. He can’t feel his fingers, and when he looks down at his feet, he realizes he forgot to wear shoes.
It’s okay though because it has to be okay.
When he was a child, he used to time travel to the cretaceous period and take pictures of dinosaurs. He wouldn’t travel to the time of dinosaurs anymore. Just to when he was seven.
He doesn’t know how to go back.
When he’s five, the world is his and he is the world. He throws snowballs at his home and climbs up trees to escape the heat.
No one says he’s not right, because he’s the only right person there. He laughs and smiles and frowns and cries.
He protects Earth from the aliens, and trades Earth to the aliens for a lifetime supply of cookies. He spins around, his face pointed at the sky, and imagines (knows) he’s the only one who matters.