After I found my parents waiting around the open-carriage station, I apparently fell asleep on my dad’s shoulder. I don’t remember any dreams. Just the cold night wind washing around me. Just the light of the fireflies guiding us home. Just the peaceful presence of content and sleepy family members.
Getting ready for bed shortened because of the hour. No reading. No late-night snack. Just a quick shower and into pajamas and into bed. It was pointless for me, of course. I was going to be up and fighting in a few hours, and who knew how dirty I was going to get doing that.
As I tried to fall asleep to the snuffling snores of the hummers outside my window, I heard Mom singing a lullaby to Ash and Ume. It was my favorite, one I missed from childhood when I wasn’t plagued by nightmares of death and horror and evil things happening to people I loved. The lyrics followed me into my dreams, guarding me from the demons seeking to drive me beyond the brink.
“You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray…”
Tracer lay on his bed, listening to the clock tick. He wondered if it was better to be deaf. His mom never complained about the noise when his brother and he made a huge racket. She never noticed when he desperately beat the piano to death. But somehow she could tell when she did one song wrong. It was always her favorite, and she could remember how it sounded. He’d catch her humming it perfectly, despite the fact she couldn’t hear it herself anymore. She told him she could feel it in her voice.
Restless, Tracer got up, went to the living room, and sat down at the piano reflecting the moonlight onto the ceiling. For a long time, he’d stopped playing, but he had a new motivation, a secret motivation. He practiced it again to stay awake, knowing his brother wouldn’t hear or care. He was too immersed in his video games, or had fallen asleep playing them, and would complain in the morning about the magic being run out.
Tracer didn’t need to look up at the pages anymore. He’d memorized it. One day he’d play it perfectly, and that would be the day he would tell her. He sang quietly.
“You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you…please don’t take my Sunshine away…”
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