When the Story Began

I sit on the worn tufted bench next to the fireplace
The velvet fabric matches the last few drops in the glass of merlot
Left forgotten on the red oak end table
Across the room
And as I look through the old photo albums
I wish I had known the boy who you were
Before life happened.

I thumb through the fading images
Disintegrating by the waves of time
Crumbling like rocks along a cliff
And I am frozen
Unable to look away from the pictures
Of the beautiful happy child you once were
And the hopeful smile that stands out in the rubble.

It was the before part of the story
Before you knew the pain of the world
Would break your heart
Over and over again.

Your eyes shone with trust
In the goodness you were sure would shield you
From the evils that awaited in the shadows

Since you had no idea what was coming
Because who ever does?

These images are your story
And as I read you through the seasons
Your face almost imperceptibly hardens
Setting like wet cement
And I can see the smile that no longer reaches higher than the curve of your lips
As you begin to disappear.

I try in my mind to reach that little boy before he drowns
Because he no longer remembers how to tread water.

Once upon a time your face reflected the belief
That happy endings were real
But when you discovered they were not
The light in your eyes flickered forlornly
Until the power went out
And by then it was too late
To jump back into the beginning of the story.