How can he be so cheerful? Bounding down the hallway, laughing at nothing, blessing the day. I wave him over, nervous and hidden. I'm so weak. That's why You hate me.
"Hallo, guten Tag, und alles Gute zum Geburtstag!" he chirps, wrapping me in a hug. Taken by surprise, I fall forward and lean all my weight on him, but he isn't perturbed. "Do you need something? Is it an adventure? Hmm?" He releases me and rocks back on his heels, bending down to see my face.
I fiddle with the hem of my dress and nod silently, eyes downcast. I want to say the words, but they won't come out.
"Is everything going well?" he asks, lifting my chin with a caring finger and making me look at him. "Do you want to talk about it?"
I open my mouth, certain I've found what to say, but nothing comes out. I hesitate and change my mind, saying quietly, "Can I hear you play your violin?"
I'm so weak. I can't even ask for what I truly want.
He nods happily and takes my hand, leading me to his room. "So, what do you want to hear? Something from a Disney movie? I know a couple of those."
"Something…sad, please." Even I can barely hear myself, but he seems not to notice and picks up his bow. He doesn't mind doing what he is asked.
Every thought is whisked out of my head as he starts to play. It's so deep, and the note is so lasting and melodramatic, it makes me want to cry. But I don't, because You don't like it when I cry.
The tune takes on a life of its own and I'm barely aware of the room anymore. In spite of myself, my tears begin to run down my cheeks, and I fall to my knees. How could I ever have hoped to succeed in my plan if a mere song can reduce me to a sniveling heap? How can I be worthy of Your love if all I do is cry?
He stops playing immediately, and I feel empty for the song's loss. "Did I make you sad? I'm so sorry!" Suddenly, he is on his knees before me, and I raise my eyes to see how tall he has grown. There is a light behind him. The way that he holds his hand beneath my chin, and the way his half-lidded eyes show me his concern, make me think of an angel.
I blink the tears away, but don't move. The light behind him, making him look so ethereal, is the sunlight outside his door, of course. He isn't really an angel. But still, he is so much better than me.
I open my mouth, sure that I am ready to say the words. "I can see why He likes you so much more than me."
His eyes change, showing me his understanding. I wish I had the courage to show my soul through my eyes. I know that I do whether I mean to or not, but I feel so naked. He snaps me out of my thoughts with his words. "No, don't say that. He doesn't like me any more than he likes the others. He probably likes me less."
"I wish…" I blush, and hold his hands in mine, one against my shoulder and one under my chin. "I wish I was more like you."
I wish I was more confident in myself. I wish I had the bravery to let people know what I'm feeling. I wish that all of my wishes weren't so unimportant and that someone cared.
I wish, more than anything else, that You cared.
He wraps his arms around me and lets me cry. I don't care anymore; I know that I can never be like him. He is so perfect, and I am so flawed. I don't want to be flawed in Your eyes anymore.
I think I fall asleep, because I open my eyes and I'm lying in his bed. Sitting up, I see that he's standing just inside the door, looking out at the garden. I move to stand, but the instant my feet touch the wooden floor he turns around and I freeze.
"Why are you crying?" I gasp, thinking that it's my fault. Putting my weight on the floor at last, I stumble over to him, tripping on harmless little objects here and there. "You can't cry! You can't be unhappy!"
He smiles through his tears, and I know that this isn't truly crying for him. This is only an echo of a past hurt. "I'm not allowed to be unhappy? That's selfish of you." The way he says it sound like he's teasing me, but he turns back to the window, back straight, and holds himself steady.
"I'll be selfish, then," I whisper, on the verge of yet more tears. "I don't want you to be sad."
He smiles and, without looking at me, says ironically, "I wonder what the sunlight's like." He holds his hand out and watches the light hit it. "I've never felt it. Not really. I don't think any of us have. As long as we're in his shadow, I don't think any of us ever will."
I listen, but I don't hear. No. It's not Your fault that we can't feel the sunlight.
As he talks to me with tears in his voice and on his cheeks, though, I can only think of how much I want to be like him.
But I can't. This isn't who I'm supposed to be.