Our son is home from college. The front door opens and there he is: Tall and slender, like Telemachus standing in the doorway of the shepherd’s hut. There is the pile of clothes in his bedroom, the groan of pipes as he turns off the shower every morning, and the male voice rumbling from the floorboards beneath me. And then, days later, the house is quiet again.
I think of the shoebox he kept under his bed in Philadelphia: the engraved pocket watch we gave him for his tenth birthday, the baseball cards, the plastic soldiers — the little treasures we accumulate over a lifetime. Moving backward in time, I think of the jagged tooth pulled from his mouth and held out for us to admire. He puts it back into his mouth to wash away the blood. Later that night, my hand moving beneath the weight of his sleeping head on the pillow, grasping in the darkness for that small piece of permanence, that tiny pearl of perfection, I know that I will find it.
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