Stupid kids, they were those boys. And wouldn't it be nice if they weren't. Or, at least if he wasn't. If Carl wasn't. She thought about his smile and his curly hair and she imagined how she would run her fingers through them, as she lay on her back in her room, her legs against the white wall, her gaze fixed on the window, watching the clouds be soaked in orange light as that day finally closed in its end.
The days were long but felt short, and everything moved fast ever since horror had broken over her small family. And everyone rushed and no one thought and the only peace would come through silence at night. Then sometimes Sofia would sneak into her room and give out and gently lay down on the floor and feel her weight against the floor and the smell of the carpet and think she would just rest for a moment, just a short moment. And she would lay there for an hour. And she would stop rushing and stop running. Float, balanced between smells and sounds. Her mother downstairs. Sofia could almost smell the tears on her mother's cheek just by listening to her broken voice, escaping out of the choked throat.
She prayed for a different thought, but noticed the sun outside crashing down from the sky. It felt like her childhood that lay in shards. "A different thought!", she commanded her mind.
Sofia found one. There was their neighbour Mr. Bertelsmann flowering his plants in the garden. She watched the clouds and listened. For a moment there was peace. She listened and could hear how the water clashed against the soil and she imagined how it softened it and sank in. She wished she could have just stayed there, but she had to think about how silent Mr. Bertelsmann had been lately. When Sofia saw him she felt cold. She felt like he was casting a dark shadow behind him. Even during the brightest days. A shadow he couldn't drop. Mr. Bertelsman changed after his wife had passed. It was always her who used to flower the plants. They used to be a lot more colorful also. Sofia's mother always used to say how the smell of the flowers from Mrs. Bertelsman's garden made their entire street smell like home. It was Mrs. Bertelsman's greetings and the smell of her flowers that dove into her nose when Sofia came back from school, that seemed to take the weight of the backpack from her shoulders.
Now Mr. Bertelsman flowered the plants. That scent of home had left with his wife. It was like he was pouring water on a ghost, hoping to bring back color to its transparent form. But there was nothing left to save and the Bertelsman's home had become silent and gray.
Sofia thought a lot about how Mr. Bertelsman felt when his wife died. Cancer. It always sounded so dirty when others talked about it. Like there was something wrong with them. Something that sure sounded terrible. But that would never actually affect oneself. Or one's own family. Sofia kept staring out the window while laying on her back and started feeling her legs get numb.
Carl's smile came back. And his hair. And Sofia imagined the gentle touch of his hand on hers. And the warmth that must bring. But he was such a stupid kid. Oh, did she wish that he wasn't.
Oh, did she wish they all weren't. Stupid, lucky, spoiled kids.
How was all that even real? Sofia listened to her mother on the phone downstairs. She had been answering calls a lot those last 2 days. Even more than usual. In her family, secrets never lasted long, and anything about Sofia and her mother Rose was a hot topic anyways, ever since her father had left them. The news about Rose's cancer diagnosis ran through the family in a few hours already. Rose stopped answering the phone on day one after her cousin from England called asking who would inherit the house, since her husband and she were divorced and Sofia was still only 17. That was when Sofia stood still in the living room watching her mother drop the phone and helplessly start crying, then breaking down to the floor and staying there, sobbing and silently whining. There was nobody to help and nobody to trust. And after her father had left them, her mother would now leave her too.
She laid there longer listening to her mother's voice, downstairs on the phone. As the bright orange shine in the clouds started to drift away further. Sofia closed her eyes and gave space only for her mother's voice. That voice that had so suddenly become so precious. She would just hold on for a moment longer, a moment longer, and when she opened her eyes, the bright orange clouds had become gray.