The Moment Particle
I guess you could say that I'm obsessed with moments.
Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. And nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of your heart. Yet, we scream anyway, despite the universe's efforts to silence us. Why? Because we have to.
I guess you could say that I’m obsessed with moments. That’s because Dad once told me, “Son, a moment is a fragment of time that exists only so long as someone remembers it. It's as tiny as a particle.” He was trying to keep me from feeling desperate about Mom’s death. I’ve come to realize that the moments I avoid are bigger than Everest — but the little ones? They matter, too.
Moment № 09
When I was six years old, Mom strapped me into our Volvo and whizzed down back country roads to run errands. The windows were down, so I extended my hand to feel the wind drag. My fingers opened and closed, testing the sensations. The sun became a strobe light as its rays flicked through passing trees. When Mom began to sing, I turned from the window to stare at her.
Swirling air picked up strands of her long brown hair and twisted them as if they were alive. The sight of it made me uneasy because I thought of Medusa. Dad believed that Greek myths make amazing bedtime stories for little boys, and the one about Medusa scared the crap out of me.
Mom glanced in the rearview mirror and sang to me, “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear!” In tradition, I should have replied with my line, but those moving strands kept me mute. Insistent, she repeated, “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.” So, I completed my part, “Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.”
She turned over her shoulder to grin at me, and I was struck by Mom's youthfulness and beauty. In less than a second, she became distracted by something out the back window, and her smile vanished. When she twisted her body back to face the steering wheel, happy hands no longer tapped out the beat of the song. Instead, fingers gripped with tight knuckles.
“Lennan? I need you to listen to me. Okay?” Carefree verses mutated into dark, frantic sentences. I wondered if she was thinking about Medusa, too. “This is important, Len. I need you to listen, to remember. Can you do that?” I nodded like a good son.
It’s not that I didn’t try to listen; I truly did. But six-year-olds are easily distracted by black, pencil-like tree trunks that fly past open windows whilst in a moving car. How much time passed while her familiar voice filled the air is lost forever because, back then, I never considered time.
Without warning, a violent jerk halted everything. My body flung outward, weightless but for the straps catching me there. That sub-moment lasted milliseconds, but in my mind, it lived a long life, separate from time itself.
When the world came to its senses, my head was heavy to the left. The sensation reminded me of The Spinning Game — You turn your body around in circles, over and over again, until you can barely stand or walk. I stuck to the game’s natural rules and kept my eyes closed.
I heard a low, garbled noise and reasoned that Mom must be turning up the radio, bit by bit. The sound grew louder, ever louder, louder still, until I understood the transmission. That was no radio. That was my mother, and she screamed my name. I struggled to open my eyes, but they refused. The sound of her forced them to part until they became slits through which I could see.
There she was…outside of the car. A small group of men dressed in suits and ties grabbed at her, pulled her away. I heard Mom’s dress rip.
My body yearned to sleep, but a son’s anger filled my breast. My mind battled against giving in to the ease of letting go. I prayed to God to transform me into an Indian warrior so that I could beat them all and save my mother. In the end, though, it was the rage that fueled me so that I stretched out a heavy arm toward her. Fingers moved like they were still flapping in the wind outside the moving car. I wanted her. So bad.
Then came the darkness and the silence.
I awoke in a strange bed. My eyes found Dad sitting next to me. He held my hand, but his chin rested on his chest. A nurse behind him stared at numbers on a beeping machine. When I squeaked a word or two, the legs of Dad’s chair scratched across the floor, moving closer. My body relaxed, and I closed my eyes. Here was Dad. Everything was all right.
When he spoke, his voice was low. “Ah,” I thought. “It’s time for our bedtime story.” The nightmare was over, and Dad’s Greek myths would set things right. But he recited a cruel tale about a car that crashed into a ditch and a mom who was killed at the wheel. It ended with the mother living in heaven now.
When he was finished, I let go and turned away from my father. I grabbed a pillow that was not my own, pulled it close, and buried my face into its stale softness. Then I matched my mother’s screams and begged the strange pillow to please, please, oh God, please…bring me my mother.
My plans are for this first chapter to develop into a novel.
The Moment Particle follows Lennan Locklear, a high school student whose mother was killed in a car wreck when he was only six years old. However, Lennan remembers a different ending to that wreck. But no one listens to a six year old.
Years later, Lennan is in high school. One night, after football practice, he comes home, only to argue with his depressed father. After retreating to his bedroom in desperation and anger, Lennan punches a hole through the back wall of his open closet. After sinking to the floor in tears, he looks up to see that a ray of sunlight is bursting into into his room through the newly-made hole.
Lennan leaps up and runs to his bedroom window to assure himself of what he already knows: That, outside of his window, it is night.
Eyes wide, Lennan turns to investigate whatever is behind that wall.
I'd be so grateful if you'd ❤️ this first chapter of my novel. Also, please click here to read more of my writing and subscribe to my publications. Feel free to leave a much-appreciated tip or small, recurring pledge if my words move or enlighten you in some way as I work hard to become a writer extraordinaire. I can't thank you enough!
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