His Favorite Songs

By Mark Joseph Kiewlak

He had built for himself a room in the attic where he felt safe, and whenever he would travel through time he would take this room with him. Sometimes he would fly within it like a magic carpet. Sometimes he would dematerialize his surroundings and make them appear somewhere else. There didn't need to be any sense to it. It was a dream. He was free.

It was fourth grade, maybe. A class he had taken. Today some of the students had to get up and sing, or perform a musical number. Their voices were extraordinary. He had not known this about his classmates. And the songs they chose were all ones by his favorite artists. It was like a room in his soul where he could stretch out and relax. Like he was home, but in a deeper home than he had ever known. In his mind he would quietly compliment them, and think about how each seemed at the pinnacle of achievement right in that very moment when they were singing. He thought about the ups and downs, and the perfect moments in between.

One girl fluttered midsong, forgetting the lyrics. She became panicky and flustered and seemed taller suddenly, as she stood in the middle of the row trying to fill up the space with what words she could remember. At her desk she bent down to her notebook and regained the phrase and built herself back to her former heights. Everyone's shared nervous tension began to ease.

When the song was over, a few minutes later, he bent backward in his desk, looking at her face upside down, caressing her arm and telling her that she was extraordinary, that if she could hear herself the way he had heard her she would never have gotten nervous and forgotten the words. She smiled tenderly and he could feel the positive exchange between them. Where had he gotten the courage to say such things?

Again he stretched out and felt at home and looked at these people, his people, and wondered why he had never noticed before how each was his, how perfect they were inside, and each a component of a greater whole.

How could he not feel at home? They were singing his favorite songs.